If you’re planning on driving through Illinois, you’ll likely encounter a toll road at some point. While toll roads can be convenient for getting from point A to point B quickly, they can also confuse those unfamiliar with paying tolls. This article will cover everything you need to know about paying tolls in Illinois, including how to pay, what to do if you forget to pay, and how to avoid paying tolls altogether.
Step 1: Determine Which Tolls You Need to Pay
The first step in paying tolls in Illinois is determining which tolls you need to pay. Illinois has several toll roads, including the Chicago Skyway, the Tri-State Tollway, and the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway. These toll roads are marked with signs indicating the toll rates, and you’ll usually see a sign announcing the toll road ahead of time.
If you’re driving a rental car, it’s important to note that many rental car companies offer toll payment options. Some will automatically charge your credit card for tolls, while others will allow you to pay for tolls at the end of your rental period. If you’re unsure whether your rental car company offers toll payment options, ask before you hit the road.
Step 2: Choose Your Payment Method
Once you know which tolls you need to pay, you’ll need to decide on a payment method. There are several options available to you in Illinois:
- Cash: Many toll roads in Illinois have cash lanes where you can pay your toll with physical money. Remember that you’ll need the exact amount of cash, as the toll booth attendants will not give change.
- I-PASS: The I-PASS is an electronic toll collection system that allows you to pay your tolls electronically. To use the I-PASS, you’ll need to open an account and purchase a transponder, a small device that attaches to your car’s windshield. When you drive through a toll plaza, the transponder automatically deducts the toll amount from your account. The I-PASS is convenient because you don’t have to worry about carrying cash or stopping to pay the toll, but it does require a one-time fee to set up an account.
- Pay-By-Plate: If you don’t have an I-PASS and don’t want to carry cash, you can pay your tolls using the Pay-By-Plate system. With Pay-By-Plate, you’ll enter your license plate number and credit card information online or by phone. The toll amount will then be charged to your credit card.
Step 3: Pay Your Tolls
Once you’ve determined which tolls you need to pay and chosen a payment method, it’s time to pay them. If you’re paying with cash or the I-PASS, you’ll stop at the toll booth and pay the toll. Using the Pay-By-Plate system, you’ll enter your license plate number and credit card information online or by phone.
It’s important to note that you could face fines and penalties if you don’t pay your tolls. The Illinois Tollway Authority takes toll evasion seriously, and they can track down and fine drivers who don’t pay their tolls.
Step 4: What to Do If You Forget to Pay?
If you accidentally forget to pay a toll in Illinois, don’t panic. There are several options available to you to avoid paying fines and penalties.
- Pay Your Tolls Within 7 Days: If you forget to pay a toll within seven days of driving through it, you can pay it online or by phone. You’ll need to provide your license plate number and credit card information, and the toll amount will be charged to your credit card.
- Request an Invoice: If you don’t pay your toll within seven days and you don’t have an I-PASS account, you’ll receive an invoice in the mail for the toll amount plus a $20 administrative fee. You’ll have 30 days to pay the invoice before additional penalties are applied.
- Request a Hearing: If you believe you were wrongly charged for a toll, you can request a hearing to contest the toll. You’ll need to provide evidence to support your claim, and a hearing officer will review your case and decide.
Step 5: How to Avoid Paying Tolls in Illinois?
If you don’t want to pay tolls in Illinois, there are a few options available to you:
- Take an Alternate Route: If you can, choose an alternate route that doesn’t involve toll roads. While this may take longer, it can save you money on tolls.
- Use Public Transportation: If you’re planning on spending time in the Chicago area, consider using public transportation to avoid paying tolls. The CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) and Metra (regional commuter rail) both offer extensive services in the Chicago area and can be a convenient and cost-effective way to get around.
- Carpool or Use a Carpool Lane: If you’re driving with multiple people, consider carpooling to save money on tolls. Many toll roads in Illinois have carpool lanes, which allow vehicles with two or more people to use the toll road for free.
Paying tolls in Illinois can initially seem confusing. Still, with some planning and understanding of the process, you can easily navigate the toll roads and avoid fines or penalties. Whether you pay with cash, the I-PASS, or Pay-By-Plate, it’s essential to pay your toll promptly to avoid additional fees. And if you’re looking to save money on tolls, consider taking an alternate route, using public transportation, or carpooling to avoid paying tolls altogether.