Legal Consequences of Non-Payment of a Road Toll in NSW

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Poppy Morandin.


Revenue from Sydney road tolls has bounced back considerably for the country’s biggest private road operator, as the public avoids public transport.

Despite recording a statutory loss of $448 million at its mid-year results on Thursday, toll revenue grew by more than 7 per cent in Sydney alone, generating $612 million for the company.

Transurban’s two new toll roads in Sydney, the M8 and NorthConnex, have assisted in growing this revenue despite average daily traffic numbers dropping by close to 20 per cent.

Whereas road traffic is now sitting at 98 per cent of pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, public transport patronage remains 43 per cent lower than February 2020.

A report conducted by Transurban has furthermore uncovered that 20 per cent of daily public transport users from Sydney predicted they would use public transport less than they did pre-pandemic.

Transurban chief executive Scott Charlton said Australia, and particularly NSW is: “one of the best places to invest in the world.”

“Traffic is close to pre-COVID levels, and we do expect over time as the city grows, we do expect traffic in Sydney to continue to grow, even with flexible work and other things that are happening.” Mr Charlton continued.

According to figures provided by Transurban, peak-hour congestion grew from 3.5 hours pre-COVID to 4.5 hours in November on parts of the M7.

Peak congestion is where speeds drop below 60km/h.

Opposition Transport Spokesman, Chris Minns commented that the revenue growth was evidence that drivers and riders were paying too much.

“It would not be surprising to any Sydney motorist that Transurban’s toll revenue is up. They know, they’re paying for it,”Mr Minns contended.

In NSW, vehicles and riders who travel without an e-tag and fail to pay the relevant toll soon after travelling, will receive a toll notice in the mail.

Motorists are required by law to pay the toll and any associated administration charges when they drive on a toll road.

If you travel on a toll road without an e-tag, you have 3 days to arrange payment with the toll road provider.

If you do not, the toll recovery process will begin, and the toll road operator will issue a toll notice to the operator of the vehicle.

Once one has received the toll notice, they can either:

  • Use an electronic account to pay by contacting the toll road operator, transferring the notice to your account, and paying the toll plus a $1.10 transfer fee; or
  • Pay another way by contacting the toll road operator and paying the toll plus a $10 administration fee.

In order to avoid these administration fees, motorists should open an electronic tag account, install the device to one’s windscreen, keep their personal and banking details up to date and add your vehicle’s number plate to your tag account.

If no action is made with regard to the first toll notice, a final toll notice will be sent to the registered operator of the vehicle.

This will usually incur a further $20 administration fee on top of the cost of the toll, to recover the cost of collecting the toll in this manner.

If this final notice is not paid, a penalty notice may be sent to the registered operator of the vehicle.

The fine for non-payment of a toll exceeds $180.

If this penalty notice is not paid, an overdue fine may be issued by Revenue NSW.

If this is not paid, Revenue NSW may instruct Roads and Maritime Services to suspend or cancel your licence or registration.

In the event that one continues to drive, they may be charged with driving while suspended in contravention of section 54 of the Transport Act 2013 (NSW).

Maximum penalties if one is caught driving whilst suspended or disqualified are a $3,300 fine and/or imprisonment for 6 months.

In the case of a second or subsequent offence, a maximum penalty of $5,500 and/or imprisonment for 12 months is applicable.

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