How Not Paying Road Tolls Can Land You in Prison

How Not Paying Road Tolls Can Land You in Prison

Outstanding tolls can earn you a hefty fine and lead to possible imprisonment. This may sound outrageous but a lot of motorists face this unpleasant situation each year. They are slapped with a huge fine and when they fail to pay, then they are told to appear before a magistrate.

How could this happen?

It is hard to believe that a $5 toll can earn you a penalty worth thousands of dollars, but it’s true. Consider this situation. A motorist fails to pay his toll because his e-tag doesn’t work or because he doesn’t have one. In either case, he will receive a toll notice of about $15. That is three times the original toll and the extra 10 dollars is classified as an administrative cost.

The motorist is required to respond to this toll notice within a certain number of days and if he doesn’t, he will receive a final notice for about $25. If the motorist ignores that notice as well, he will receive an infringement notice for $148 sent by Victoria Police and Civic Compliance. If this notice is not paid within a certain number of days, a penalty reminder for $172.50 is issued. If this notice is also ignored, an enforcement order for $254.10 is issued. If that order is also ignored, the court may issue a warrant asking the motorist to attend court, and pay a fine of $313.90.

Keep in mind that these fines apply to a single $5 toll. For someone who uses toll roads daily, the fines can easily add up. And the motorist may be totally unaware that there is a problem until they receive the notices.

Due to various stressors, it is easy to forget to pay. And if you change homes, you may fail to receive the reminders and notices until you clock up a huge amount over some time.

The situation in NSW

The situation is somewhat better in NSW where motorists can’t be directly sent to jail for failure to pay their fines. However, if they don’t pay their fines, they will receive a community service order. And if they fail to do it, it will certainly lead to imprisonment. The Roads and Maritime Services website notes that motorists who don’t have an e-tag and who fail to pay the road tolls soon after using the road will receive the toll notice in their mail. They have 28 days to pay up. The administration fee for those who have an e-tag is $1.10 and for those who don’t have an e-tag, it is $10. If the final enforcement order remains unpaid, the motorist’s license or registration can get suspended or cancelled.

This shows how a minor road toll can turn into a nightmare for someone who hasn’t received the notices. And if they continue driving even after their licence has been cancelled or suspended, they could be charged with the more serious offence driving while suspended. Unfortunately, this will lead to a long-term disqualification and a criminal record. In some cases, the matter is referred to a debt collection agency. This may result in the appropriation of money from the motorist’s account and a poor credit rating.

Drivers who find themselves in this unpleasant situation argue that the road toll system is bad and needs to be reformed. However, the government is unwilling to relent.

If you’ve found yourself in a situation where your licence is being threatened by the failure to pay tolls, make sure you seek legal advice promptly.