In 2014, the Dartford Tunnel Toll booths were replaced by the ‘Dart Charge’ in an effort to reduce congestion, however, recent figures show that 1,160,000 tolls which should have been paid have been avoided, and the fines passed to the European debt recovery agency with £81 million left outstanding.
Instead of the toll booths, drivers have to set up a pre-paid account online, where charges are £2.50 for cars, £3.00 for goods vehicles, and £6.00 for HGVs.
If the toll isn’t paid, drivers can be charged £70, to be paid within 28 days, although this fine is reduced to £35 if it is settled within 14 days. Anyone who ignores the charges can be fined up to £108.
Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford, Kent, says authorities should be seizing the vehicles of those who fail to pay.
“It is simply unfair for some people to be able to get away without paying for the toll.” the Conservative MP said.
“There is a power to seize vehicles from those who persistently refuse to pay, but I don’t think this has ever been used.
“I suspect that if the Department for Transport were to release the figures for how few foreign lorry drivers have actually paid the fines they have been given, it would show an even worse situation.”
Motoring lawyer Nick Freeman says the Government is acting “soft and stupid” on the huge debt that remains outstanding.
Freeman, who is nicknamed “Mr Loophole” following a string of impressive legal victories for celebrity clients including David Beckham and Jimmy Carr, said in an interview with the BBC: “The government needs to grasp this because the amount of money is exorbitant and it’s totally unfair.”
“The point is there are millions and millions of foreign drivers who come over to this country, and they pay nothing to use our roads. We go abroad; we have to pay.”
Highways England have responded by saying that the unpaid fines were indeed being chased abroad. A spokesman has said: “The vast majority of drivers are paying their Dart Charge correctly, and the number of foreign drivers not paying on time makes up less than 1% of total crossings.
“Non-payment is being followed up fairly and appropriately, using all legal means, both in the UK and abroad.”
You can listen to Nick’s interview on BBC Radio Kent below.
About Freeman & Co.
Freeman & Co. are a specialist firm of road traffic and criminal defence solicitors based in Manchester but with nationwide coverage.
Freeman & Co. specialise in a wide variety of road traffic cases, ranging from drink driving, speeding and mobile phone offences, to name but a few.
The firm was created by Nick Freeman, who has been dubbed “Mr Loophole” by the press for his technical legal ability and robustly challenging the prosecution.
Nick is well regarded as an expert road traffic lawyer and has successfully represented many high profile clients for a variety of motoring offences as well as criminal offences.
The firm of Freeman & Co. embodies the way Nick works, with minute attention to detail and challenging the prosecution at every turn.
If you are facing a road traffic matter or criminal offence and need the services of Freeman & Co. please call on 0161 236 7007.
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Freeman & Co Solicitors
8 Oxford Court
Tel. 0161 236 7007