By Lauren Victory

CHICAGO (CBS) — Ticked about tolls. The Morning Insiders heard from a viewer who is miffed over the money he’s expected to pay in fines to the Illinois Tollway.

The longtime customer hoped to be forgiven for his mistakes, like in the past. Turns out, the Tollway is using a new way to process penalties.

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Take a ride with CBS 2’s Lauren Victory, so you can avoid Tollway trouble yourself.

When you spend day after day getting from Point A to Point B, it’s easy to “C” that mistakes happen.

Josh Yore’s wife, an essential worker, temporarily switched cars in the middle of the pandemic.

“Everything was fine until we got the bill,” Josh said.

It turned out she didn’t move her I-Pass transponder to the right position. Then a second flub:

“It was supposed to be registered as a specialty plate,” Yore said. “We should’ve paid $5.80.”

But the bill totaled $21.

“Typically, I-Pass will help you figure it out,” Yore said; meaning, waive extra charges and fines. But Tollway customer service had some news.

“They are no longer to resolve those issues,” Yore said. “For them to just push you off is, to me, just unsettling.”

Yore is onto something that the Illinois Tollway is actually proud of. Leaders are calling it “tolling reform.” Starting earlier this summer, any driver – with or without an I-Pass – is now charged a $3 flat fee per missed toll, plus the cost of that toll.

“We used to charge $20 per fine,” said Natalie Marcione, director of toll initiatives for the Tollway. So a $3 fee is an 85% reduction, she pointed out.

What prompted the change?

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“The tollway has been trying look at what we’re doing with our customers, trying to make it a bit easier where they’re not held down with these fines. Some of these are large fine amounts,” she said.

She acknowledged I-Pass customers are probably used to more leniency.

“We would dismiss the fines and all you had to pay were the tolls,” she said. “So that’s probably what he’s upset about now. But instead of paying $20 per fine, he’s only paying $3.”

“I think it’s unfair to the public to do that,” Yore said.

The Tollway disagreed, saying their tolling reform levels the field for all drivers, and streamlines missed toll processing.

“The call center runs much smoother now,” Marcione said.

Yore’s wife plans to never call again.

“She’s waking up early so she can avoid taking the toll road,” Yore said.

The Tollway said their new system still allows to dispute fees online.

I-Pass transponders should be mounted behind your rearview mirror, not on the dashboard. If you have a vanity or specialty license plate, you need to make sure your car is registered that way.

While Yore may not be pleased with the new reforms, they are benefitting many other drivers. For example, you used to have seven days to pay a missed toll. Now you have 14 days, before you get an invoice. And that invoice now includes that $3 invoice fee, not the previous $20 ding. Plus, anyone who missed a toll earlier in the pandemic (March 9 to June 25) does not face any additional fees or fines.

Finally, for the remainder of 2020, all fines and fees (which could be as high as $20 to $50 each) are reduced to just $3. Even if you’ve already been sent to collections, the Tollway will allow you to pay just $3 per violation. The Tollway tells us one driver who owed $798 paid less than $30 to pay off her balance. But again, this program only runs through the end of the year and those fines will jump back up in 2021 if not paid off by December 30.

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Here is a link for more information on the Illinois Tollway changes.

Lauren Victory