LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky plans to forbid 16,000 drivers from renewing their vehicle registrations this month as a penalty for repeatedly failing to pay Ohio River bridge tolls, an official overseeing the RiverLink network said Tuesday.

The actions would mark the first time the state has used one of the toughest enforcement measures against toll scofflaws. Under laws passed in both states, Kentucky and Indiana can withhold vehicle registrations until outstanding tolls are paid.

In Indiana, the number of frozen registrations will be “slightly more,” said Megan McLain, assistant general counsel for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The drivers targeted are those who have ignored four invoices and received notice about the registration hold, she told the Kentucky legislature’s interim transportation committee.

It wasn’t immediately clear how much unpaid toll revenue those figures represent.

Tolls began on the three RiverLink crossings – the Interstate 65 Kennedy and Lincoln bridges downtown and the upriver Lewis and Clark Bridge – late last year. The high-speed system has no toll booths; cameras and scanners record license plates or scan transponders on vehicles' windshields.

Drivers without toll accounts -- linked either to the transponder or a license plate – are billed by mail.

McLain acknowledged that customer service was “admittedly rather bad” when tolls first started. WDRB News reported in February that average call wait times at an Austin, Texas call center were longer than one hour.

By adding more call center representatives and using satellite offices in Puerto Rico and Muncie, Indiana, toll operator Kapsch TrafficCom and its subcontractor Municipal Services Bureau have shortened those delays. McLain said average waits were about one minute before hurricanes in Texas and Puerto Rico disrupted call center operations.

It now takes about two minutes for calls to be answered, she said.

Reach reporter Marcus Green at 502-585-0825, mgreen@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.