Gov. Paul LePage is threatening to use the “full extent of the law” against Massachusetts officials for their efforts to collect unpaid tolls from Maine drivers.

In a letter to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, also a Republican, LePage accuses Bay State officials of using “shakedown” tactics and threatening Maine drivers with license suspensions for unpaid toll bills for as little as $6.

LePage’s July 31 letter details the plight of one driver who contacted him after Massachusetts’s E-ZPass system, known as EZDriveMA, charged him $20 in late fees for allegedly failing to pay a $6 toll.

Unlike Maine, Massachusetts has all-electronic toll barriers, and drivers without an E-ZPass transponder are mailed bills based on their vehicle’s license plate, which is photographed when it passes a toll barrier.

LePage’s letter indicates that the driver has bank records that show he paid for the tolls on time, but EZDriveMA did not process his payment in a timely manner, prompting the additional late fees.

When the driver called to complain, EZDriveMA workers treated him rudely and later threatened to have his driver’s license suspended in Maine, LePage wrote.

“This unprofessional behavior looks more like a shakedown than the legitimate collection of tolls,” LePage wrote to Baker, closing his letter with a warning that, “If this harassment of Maine drivers continues, we will respond to the full extent of the law.”

LePage didn’t specify what law he was referencing, or what the response might be.

Baker’s office declined to comment on the letter Monday and referred all questions to Massachusetts Department of Transportation spokesman Patrick Marvin. He issued a statement in response to a request for comment.

“The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has processed nearly 900 million transactions since transitioning to All Electronic Tolling in October 2016 and components of the system are designed to be more than 99.9% accurate,” the statement said. Marvin said drivers who have questions about invoices or toll charges should contact the department’s customer service agency. Marvin did not respond to the specific complaints detailed in LePage’s letter, including the threat to have the state suspend the driver’s license.

Julie Rabinowitz, LePage’s press secretary, said the governor had asked her to provide the letter to talk radio host Howie Carr, who is also a columnist for the Boston Herald.

The Herald published a story about the letter Saturday under the headline “Road Rage,” with photos of LePage and Baker superimposed over an electronic tolling barrier.

Peter Mills, executive director of the Maine Turnpike Authority, said the license suspension threatened against the Maine driver is not part of the multistate agreement Maine has with New Hampshire and Massachusetts for tolling reciprocity.

Maine drivers who fail to pay tolls in Massachusetts could have their vehicle registrations suspended in Maine. Massachusetts drivers who fail to pay tolls in Maine could be blocked from renewing their vehicle registration when it expires, Mills said. But neither state can suspend a driver’s license for failing to pay tolls.

Mills said about 380,000 toll violations are processed each year, less than one half of 1 percent of all toll transactions. In 2017, the turnpike had a total of 85 million toll transactions, Mills said.

Maine has working relationships and reciprocal agreements with tolling authorities in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and the Canadian province of Quebec, he said, but not with the Maritime provinces or with Vermont.

Mills said the MTA doesn’t typically get complaints from Mainers who drive in Massachusetts without an E-ZPass, since they are cash-paying drivers who don’t have accounts in the digital E-ZPass system. He said the authority did contact the driver LePage referenced in his letter to verify his experience, but the MTA is in steady communication with the tolling agencies in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and the problem is not widespread.

“If there is a problem it isn’t anything that’s come to our attention,” Mills said. “There is one incident that generated all this and this person got the ear of the governor.”

LePage, however, said in his letter to Baker that numerous Mainers have had problems with Massachusetts EZDriveMA officials.

“Our Turnpike Authority informs me we have received other complaints about untimely processing of payments sent to EZDriveMA, resulting in demands for unwarranted fees,” LePage wrote. “Staff in Maine must sometimes intercede to get those fees waived on behalf of Maine drivers. EZDriveMA’s customer service representatives also, inappropriately, threaten Maine drivers with the suspension of their driver’s license.”

Mills said it’s not clear where LePage got that information.

“The governor’s office has not spoken with us directly about these issues,” Mills wrote in a message to the Press Herald. “I believe they have discussed some of it with the Secretary of State’s office. I think someone may be confused about penalties under the pay-by-plate system and erroneous tolls under E-ZPass.”

Mills, a Republican who was appointed by LePage, said he spoke with the driver in question but could not disclose the individual’s name because of confidentiality issues. He said the driver was not an E-ZPass user.

LePage’s office also would not identify the driver.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, who oversees motor vehicle registrations and driving licenses, said LePage’s letter involves an isolated incident. Dunlap did say there have been occasions when a Maine driver was issued a toll invoice when an E-ZPass camera misread a license plate, but said those issues are usually quickly resolved by his staff.

“We are not getting bombarded with complaints about this, and it wouldn’t have even been an issue if the governor hadn’t written a letter,” Dunlap said Monday.

Dunlap also said the driver in question was “taken care of” and the fees in question were refunded.

The secretary of state, who is a Democrat and frequently clashes with LePage, said the governor “now wants to throw the whole program in the woods.”

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:

[email protected]

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