Hundreds of commercial motorists were issued citations last week while passing through Maryland as part of a targeted police effort to crack down on drivers who actively avoid paying tolls at one of the state's largest toll plazas, according to Maryland State Police.
The police initiative, dubbed "Operation Prevent," was conducted Wednesday through Friday at the Tydings Bridge toll plaza on Interstate 95 in Cecil County, where 20,500 toll violations have occurred in the past year, police said.
The "toll evaders," police said, have gotten away with the violations in the past by altering their vehicle registrations, using devices that obstruct their license plates or by driving through the Perryville plaza with no license plates.
The violations have cost the state $740,450 in revenue, police said.
Nearly 300 vehicles were stopped for a range of violations during the operation, including 121 toll violations, 36 registration plate violations — including vehicles with altered plates — and 136 lane violations, police said.
Five motorists were charged with theft for intentionally avoiding toll payments, one was arrested on an open warrant and one was arrested on drug charges, police said.
More than 140 warnings were also issued, police said.
Ten commercial drivers were also found to have suspended licenses during on-site inspections conducted as part of the operation, which Maryland Transportation Authority police and the Federal Motor Vehicle Carrier Safety Administration participated in. A total of 29 inspections were conducted.
Police said the purpose of the operation was "to ensure that commercial vehicles and their drivers meet state and federal safety regulations while complying with the state laws intended to promote highway safety in Maryland."
They called the operation an "overwhelming success."