“In 2022, 45 procedures were opened for a deeper investigation of complaints about tolls,” he said, in response to Lusa, the official source of the Ombudsman.

Among the issues that most led people to appeal for the intervention of the ombudsman, Maria Lúcia Amaral, when faced with notifications for payment of tolls, are, according to the same official source, the “absence of prior contact by the concessionaire” and “ disproportionality of the enforced amount compared to the toll value”.

The allegation that the vehicle that made the passages is no longer owned by the debtor, so that he will not be the debtor, is also among the most common complaints.

The legal regime governing the collection of toll debts has already undergone several changes, the last of which is reflected in a decree-law published in December last year, which transposes a European directive on the interoperability of electronic systems.

This year, on January 13th, parliament generally approved an IL bill that provides for a limit to administrative offenses to be applied for non-payment of tolls, providing that “the total amount charged, under the terms of this law, considering , namely, toll fees, fines and any administrative costs, both within the scope of administrative offense proceedings and in enforcement proceedings, cannot exceed three times the value of the respective toll fees, without prejudice to default interest”.

Motorists whose car does not have an electronic device for collecting toll fees can pay this expense at a CTT station or at a ‘payshop’ store, for the purpose of 15 days – after passing through the gates.

If they do not do so, the law determines that they must be notified by the concessionaire in order to proceed with this payment.

Once these two steps have been completed, the collection process is sent to the Tax and Customs Authority (AT), in which case procedural costs and fines are added to the toll fees and administrative costs, often resulting in much higher amounts. higher than the amount owed for pure toll payment.

In a recommendation addressed to a concessionaire in 2019, Maria Lúcia Amaral stressed that “the right to be heard and defended, which constitutes a corollary of the adversary principle, is not enough with a formal notification of the interested party, requiring diligence in the procedure aimed at assess the data necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the notification, including the updated address of the notification”.

The ombudsman also noted that “failure to update the address on the car registration cannot penalize the holder, when he has already corrected this failure at the time when the query to the database would be relevant”.

In the explanatory memorandum of its bill, IL recalls that the legislation in force determines that “fines have a minimum value corresponding to 7.5 times the value of the respective toll rate, but never less than (euro) 25 , and of a maximum value corresponding to four times the minimum value of the fine, with respect for the maximum limits provided for in the General Regime of Tax Infractions'”, which leads the party to conclude that these may reach a “disproportionate” and “exaggerated” value when compared to the damage done to utilities.

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