What to do when you get stopped for not paying e-tolls

Following the recent announcement by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa that outstanding e-toll bills will be linked to the licence renewal process, many South African motorists have expressed their unhappiness with the Sanral system.

According to industry experts, though, current regulations prevent the authorities from withholding a licence over e-toll debt.

This was acknowledged by Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters, who said the e-toll review panel was aware that legislative changes will be needed to link licence disc renewals to e-tolls.

Despite this acknowledgement, there is still concern that motorist who have outstanding e-tolls, or do not own an e-tag, will be targeted by law enforcement agencies – as was the case in 2014.

What to do if stopped over e-tolls

Outa’s chairman Wayne Duvenage said the authorities have no right to ask a driver about outstanding e-toll bills, and the driver can always reply “I don’t know” to questions on money owed to Sanral.

“Remember, the police are only doing their job and it helps to be respectful and courteous to them. Always be polite,” said Duvenage.

He said handing over your driver’s licence, off which your name and ID can be recorded, is a requirement of a police stop.

As for e-tags: “With the proposed changes, the need for an e-tag has fallen away. They can’t make anyone register for anything they don’t want to. That would be tantamount to the [police] asking the driver if they have registered for a TV licence. It has nothing to do with them.”

Justice Project South Africa has stated that motorists should always pull over when instructed to do so by law enforcement agencies, and always remain clam and polite.

“If the officer issues you with an infringement notice, sign for it when you are asked to do so. It is not in your interests to try and argue a case at the roadside. Remember that a traffic officer is not a magistrate, and the roadside is not a court.”

If you are asked questions about e-tolls, immediately ask the person who is asking those questions to call their regional commander to come and speak with you, says JPSA.

“We have been assured by a Chief Provincial Traffic Inspector at the Gauteng Department of Community Safety that his officers have been specifically instructed not to make any enquiries of members of the public with respect to e-tolls.”

In summary

  • Always stop when requested to do so by a law enforcement official.
  • Be polite and courteous when interacting with law enforcement officials.
  • Hand over your driver’s licence if requested to do so.
  • You have the right to say “I don’t know” when asked about outstanding e-toll bills, or request to speak to a commanding officer.
  • You are not required by law to have an e-tag in your car.
  • Sign and accept infringement notices issued by law enforcement officials.
  • Do not try and argue a case at the roadside.

More on e-tolls

E-tolls could have been much worse: report

“My wife pays e-tolls – she is stupid”

E-tolls restrict freedom of movement: EFF

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What to do when you get stopped for not paying e-tolls