Fort Worth woman says ex-boyfriend racked up $17.2K in NTTA fees, left her with bill


In just the fourth month of the year, police stopped Dee Davis five times for driving with an expired registration sticker.

Each time an officer approaches her to ask about the expired sticker, she is always ready with a response. She grabs the folder she keeps in the back seat of her car. It’s stuffed with envelopes from the North Texas Tollway Authority.

Why This Story Matters
Millions of Texans rely on toll roads daily in a state that has built more paid thoroughfares over the past two decades than almost all U.S. states combined. The affordability, safety and management of these roads impact us all, especially as some leaders admit more are likely coming to handle substantial growth throughout the state and in North Texas.

After Davis explains her situation, the officer lets her go without writing her a ticket.

Davis is grateful for their generosity. She finds herself in this situation because she, too, was nice. Several years ago, she allowed her boyfriend at the time to use her car to get to work. At the time, they lived together in north Fort Worth. But in 2021, they broke up.

Late last summer, the single mother who works two jobs was stunned to see a $17,200 bill in the mail from NTTA. She had never driven on toll roads, but all the citations were from when she and her boyfriend were dating. The most recent toll fee was for more than a year after they had broken up, she noticed. Davis guessed her ex must have hidden the tollway citations from her, or maybe they had been sent to the old address where she lived before the breakup.

Davis was confident when she first saw the bill that a phone call to explain what happened would resolve the matter. NTTA’s answer, though, surprised her. She was told the only payment plan they would accept was at least $300 a month. It was far more than she could afford.

The unpaid debt has had far-reaching complications. State law prevents her from renewing her car registration until she pays the NTTA. So for the last two years, Davis has been driving her car with an expired registration sticker.

Last summer, she told The Dallas Morning News some of the officers who have stopped her multiple times know her by name. Some have told her they stop other motorists who are in the same predicament. She is most frequently pulled over by police after 11:30 p.m., when she is driving home from her second job.

It’s a risk that weighs heavily on her. Each time she gets behind the wheel, she knows she can be arrested or have her car impounded. That’s because failure to pay tolls is a criminal offense in Texas.

Davis is also now a “habitual violator” — the label NTTA gives anyone who has not paid 100 or more toll violations in a year. Justice of the peace courts in North Texas can issue arrest warrants to habitual violators who do not appear in court to address the citations.

“They can take you to jail,” she said. “I’m frantic about it.”