Portsmouth man who owes over $21,000 in tolls goes to court

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A driver who owes over $21,000 in toll bills and late fees faced a judge Tuesday afternoon in a Portsmouth courtroom.

Just last week, Governor Terry McAuliffe held a news conference, during which he said he was concerned about administrative fees on top of administrative fees for each and every time you go through the tunnels. Those add up and lead to toll bills like Portsmouth resident Michael Farrell is facing.

“Our citizens are being held hostage by this company for fees and expenses, and this is out of control,” Delegate Stephen Heretick, who represents Portsmouth, says while talking about Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC).

Heretick, who is also an attorney, is representing Farrell as he fights a $21,315 ERC toll bill.

How did the bill get so out of control?

“My responder stopped working… I was unaware of that at first and part of it was my fault and it got out of control and it spiraled way out of control and I couldn’t take care of it,” Farrell said.

“He did not receive summons for these judgments that were filed against him,” Heretick added.

Farrell claims he wasn’t told when to be in court, missed the hearing and had judgments awarded against him. In court, Heretick told the judge, “I have been in contact with that firm your honor… They had nothing for us, they have no information that would support this claim.”

The judge responded and said the court has a liberal policy of reopening cases and that’s exactly what she did in Farrell’s case, so he can fight back against ERC.

Outside the courtroom, Heretick said, “The court has ordered ERT to provide a bill of particulars, which is a pleading, which is what they say he owes and why.”

Heretick says if you go to court against ERC, ask the judge for a bill of particulars, forcing the tolling agency to produce details.

“It takes time for them to do, and outlines what the charges are for,” he says.

10 On Your Side asked Farrell if ERC ever itemized what he owed them. Farrell said they didn’t.

For now, since the judge has ordered his case re-opened, Farrell is hoping the Department of Motor Vehicles will allow him to renew his registration so he can still drive.

ERC resolves issues with drivers after 10 On Your Side reports