Trucker advocacy group Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) has been fighting back against tolls that they claim are unconstitutionally high. But this week the United States Supreme Court declined to hear their case, effectively ending OOIDA’s legal battle.
OOIDA’s case targeted the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s toll hikes. OOIDA contended that the state had been illegally collecting tolls since a 2007 law allowed the PADOT to start spending toll money on non-turnpike expenses. The argument relied on the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution which prohibits states from discriminating against out-of-state commerce. By spending toll money on non-turnpike expenses, OOIDA argued that the tolls were more burdensome on the out-of-state drivers than those who live in PA and are beneficiaries of PA tax spending.
Moreover, the Commerce Clause also prohibits excessively burdening interstate commerce. The Turnpike’s tolls have increased every year since 2009 and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. OOIDA claims that the turnpike already collects tolls worth 2.5 to 3 times the amount needed to maintain the Turnpike.
OOIDA appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn the Third Circuit court dismissal of the case. By declining to hear the case, the Supreme Court has ensured that the Third Circuit dismissal will stand.
“By not hearing the case, the court has essentially ensured that all highway users will be ATMs to fund everything under the sun, and from here on out, that is exactly what will happen in other states,” OOIDA said Vice President Lewie Pugh according to FreightWaves. “We are dumbfounded that the highest court in the country thinks it’s OK for states to place the burden of solving their own bad decisions upon motorists and truckers by way of excessive tolls. It’s literally highway robbery.”