Thousands of Metro Vancouver drivers have been barred from renewing their licenses or insurance because of unpaid Port Mann and Golden Ears bridge tolls, according to the crown agency that operates the span.

ICBC has placed refuse-to-issue holds on 25,000 people who have more than $25 in unpaid tolls for crossing the new Port Mann. The bridge opened on Dec. 1, 2012 but didn’t introduce regular tolling until the beginning of 2014.

Those who don’t pay are issued three payment notifications within a 90-day period before being designated as refuse-to-issue, according to TI Corp.

“The vast majority of Treo customers pay their tolls on time, or automatically through their Treo account,” said TI Corp spokesman Greg Johnson. “But for those who don’t, there’s a process to ensure that the toling system is fair for all users. After all, the toll only exists to pay for the bridge.”

And it’s not just the Port Mann toll that drivers are avoiding. According to ICBC, more than 17,000 drivers have been designated refuse-to-issue for unpaid tolls on the Fraser River-spanning Golden Ears Bridge.

The Port Mann toll-evaders represent about $3-million in lost revenue for TI Corp, but the agency isn’t worried. Johnson said between 80 to 85 per cent of drivers who have been sent refuse-to-issue notices end up making payment soon after.

“With 2.5-million bridge users since the start of tolling, the numbers of drivers in RTI represents a very small number, about one per cent of total bridge users,” Johnson said.

ICBC has also placed refuse-to-issue holds on 9,300 people for avoiding child support payments, while more than 4,000 Metro Vancouver residents have been sent notices for unpaid TransLink fines.

Tolling on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges is done automatically by cameras which capture either a vehicle’s TReO decal, linked to a pre-authorized payment system, or the license plate, in which case an invoice is sent to the home of the registered vehicle owner. Those who do not pre-pay for tolls have seven days to make a payment.

With files from CTV Vancouver's Mi-Jung Lee