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Disabled Veterans Can't Drive Free On All North Texas Toll Roads; Program Confusing To Some

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - For years the State of Texas has allowed for toll charges to be waived for disabled veterans.

But Paul Nelson has spent a majority of 2021 fighting his toll charges with the North Texas Tollway Authority.

Nelson's family has a history of military service that's as old as our republic, he said.

"My mom is member of the Daughters of the American Revolution," he said. "We've had family represented in every military every conflict."

Nelson broke both of his legs and fractured his ankle during a paratrooper exercise.

"When you jump out of airplanes for living, the odds are not in your favor," he said.

He received his Disabled Veterans license plate in February of 2021.

He said he was under the impression tolls were waived for toll roads and toll lanes.

"If you were under the impression that as as a disabled veteran that you can drive the NTTA tolls and have your fees waived, you're sadly mistaken," he said.

Paul Nelson
Paul Nelson (CBS 11)

He's fighting the NTTA over a $349 charge he says he shouldn't have to pay because of a state law that allows holders of disabled veterans license plates to travel for free.

The state law allows, but does not require, agencies to let veterans ride for free on its toll lanes.

The NTTA says it does not waive charges for veterans with disabled plates because it does not receive funds for those programs.

In a statement to CBS 11 News, the NTTA said, "NTTA respects and honors all U.S. veterans and thanks them for their service to our country. Unlike other tolling entities around the state, the North Texas Tollway Authority does not receive tax appropriations from the state of Texas to fund a disabled veteran's toll program. We build roads through proceeds from bond sales. Agreements with bondholders require us to collect tolls to repay the debt. To ensure funds are sufficient to do that, we are prevented from allowing free passage to those who choose to use our roads. With funding from a local sponsor, we do extend free tolls to Legion of Valor members who use our roads."

Adding to the confusion, TxDOT officials said its waiver applies to toll lanes on I-30, I-35E and SH-114.

But certain stretches of LBJ Freeway, North Tarrant Expressway and even some parts of SH 183 are off limits.

Some of those stretches are operated by private entities and were funded by private money.

This confusion, Nelson says, baffles most veterans he knows.

CBS 11 asked both TxDOT and TEXpress about a scenario where a veteran traveling on I-635 for example, may qualify for an exemption on one part of the highway and not the other.

Both officials say it is important for everyone to know what stretches honor the waiver and what stretches don't.

Nelson says that policy is confusing at best, and unfair to those who have served their country.

"I feel like I'm marginalized. Or I'm not relevant now." he said.

CLICK HERE for NTTA's policy on veterans license plates.

CLICK HERE for more on the Veteran Discount Program.

Eligible veterans in vehicles with qualifying license plates may drive the following TxDOT toll roads free of charge:

TEXpress Lanes – Dallas/Fort Worth Area

In the Dallas/Fort Worth area, only TEXpress Lanes managed by TxDOT offer the discount.

SH 183 TEXpress Lanes - Euless to Dallas

Loop 12 TEXpress Lanes - Dallas

SH 114 TEXpress Lanes - Grapevine to Dallas

I-635E TEXpress Lanes - US 75 to I-30

I-30 TEXpress Lanes - Dallas to Arlington

I-35E TEXpress Lanes - Denton County to Dallas County

Veteran Toll Discount Map for DFW
Veteran Toll Discount Map for DFW
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