1.6m tolls a year go unpaid on busiest motorway

One in 25 motorists are still not paying the toll on the country’s busiest motorway.

The National Roads Authority has reported a 4% evasion rate on the barrier-free toll on the M50, which is crossed by an average of 110,000 vehicles a day.

It equates to around 1.6m unpaid tolls each year, depriving the State of about €4m in lost revenue. About half of all motorists who do not pay the toll are using foreign-registered vehicles. Vehicles registered in Northern Ireland account for one quarter of all tolls which go unpaid.

A NRA spokesperson said it reached a break-even point in terms of the cost of enforcement associated with pursuing toll dodgers.

Another company, Euro Park Collection Service, has the contract to pursue both domestic and foreign motorists who fail to pay the toll, although a cost-benefit analysis is carried out on the cost of collecting tolls in distant jurisdictions.

The NRA has logged vehicles registered from as far away as Azerbaijan, East Timor, Argentina, Mozambique, and the Faroe Islands passing through the M50 toll.

The NRA said it has high levels of success in collecting unpaid tolls and penalties from offending motorists of vehicles registered within the EU, especially those in Britain and the North.

However, the spokesperson admitted the recovery of tolls from motorists from countries outside the EU was “quite low.”

The NRA said it has issued over 30,000 civil summons to toll evaders to date and successfully obtained over 12,500 judgements by the courts. Around 1,200 of these judgements have been passed on to a local sheriff for collection.

A NRA spokesperson said a court judgement for the non-payment of tolls can also affect a person’s credit rating.

In one case, a vehicle was seized in Balybrack, Co Dublin, on foot of a court order of €5,624 for the non-payment of tolls. The vehicle was only returned to its owner when the debt was paid.

A seized Mercedes van was sold at auction after its owner failed to pay tolls and penalties totalling more than €5,300.

The owner of a taxi which was leased to another driver who failed to pay the tolls was found liable by the courts for almost €5,000 as he was the registered owner of the vehicle.

Motorists who do not have a tag or video toll account have until 8pm of the following day to pay the standard €3.10 toll. If they fail to pay on time, they incur an additional €3 fine and have 14 days to pay.

If they do not make this payment on time, they have to pay a combined toll and penalty of €47.10. This rises to €149.60 if not paid within 56 days. Motorists are given seven more days to pay this sum at which point they are likely to face a civil summons.

The NRA collects around €100m each year in tolls from compliant motorists.

The NRA will pay about €50m per annum until 2020 to the former owners of the Westlink, National Toll Roads, following the controversial State buyout of the toll in 2008.


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