Gas Tax, Tolls Increase in Md. Monday

Drivers in Maryland will pay a little more at the pump starting Monday.

The gas tax will increase by nearly four cents on July 1, bringing the state gas tax to 27.3 cents per gallon. That amount could nearly double over the next few years, reaching 44.6 cents per gallon by July 2017.

"The fact of the matter is that the gas tax is going down in Virginia and going up in Maryland," John Townsend with AAA said. "Depending on where you buy gas, you could notice a difference right away, perhaps as early as this week."

The law also includes a mechanism to automatically raise the tax in the future based on inflation by linking it to changes in the Consumer Price Index.

And while you're paying more at the pump, you'll also be spending a few more dollars at the Bay Bridge. Starting Monday, it will cost cars $6 to cross the span. E-ZPass users will pay $5.40 -- unless they have a commuter plan.

The toll at the Harry W. Nice Bridge (US 301) will also cost $6.

Drivers of passenger cars paying cash to travel the Harbor Tunnel, the Fort McHenry Tunnel and the Key Bridge will now pay $4, up from $3. On Interstate 95 and the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge, tolls are increasing from $6 to $8.

Officials hope a new law will also help them crack down on the number of unpaid tolls on the  Intercounty Connector.

Records obtained by WTOP-FM show 862,458 tolls have not been paid since January 2012, costing the state millions of dollars. Documents also show 88,593 drivers with two or more unpaid video tolls.

Under the new law, drivers will receive a $50 civil citation if they do not pay an outstanding toll within 30 days. A driver can challenge the citation in court, but ignoring it leads a flagged registration. That means the driver will be unable to renew the registration until the bill is paid in full.

Previously, Maryland could only impose administrative fees and turn over unpaid tolls to collections. Now, officials can flag and eventually suspend the registration once a driver passes $1,000 in tolls due.

Another law that goes into effect Monday aims to keep residents safe from house fires. Beginning Monday, the installation of "long-life" smoke alarms will be required in all residential construction projects. The alarms are outfitted with lithium batteries that last 10 years.

The alarms are also equipped with a "hush" feature which discourages residents from trying to take out the battery to silence the alarm.

A number of new laws will go into effect Oct. 1, including the governor's controversial Firearm Safety Act. Under the new legislation, which the governor helped push through the General Assembly, anyone buying a handgun will have to submit fingerprints to obtain a license.

The bill also bans 45 types of assault weapons, but those who owned the weapons before the law goes into effect will be allowed to keep them.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us