Drivers face £160 fine if they break new road rules

Congestion charge rules that came into effect today could see the many drivers who come into central London just in the evenings penalised by up to £160.

Costs are increasing with motorists having to pay £15 a day instead of the usual £11.50 as the scheme is temporarily extended, with higher charges and longer hours.

It is in the hope of reducing the number of car trips into the capital – and helping cut emissions.

It will also now run from 7am until 10pm in a change to the 6pm deadline drivers had before lockdown, reports The Express.

The changes may not be known to many Londoners meaning drivers who use congestion charge areas of an evening may not know they now have to pay to use these roads.

The scheme will also now, for the first time, cover weekends, which could affect tourists or visitors to the capital.

The concern is that many drivers who visit London at the weekend may not keep updated on the congestion rules and could miss paying the charge.

Not paying the congestion charge can result in motorists being hit with a formal Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). Fines of up to £160 will be issued, although Transport for London (TfL) says a discounted rate of £80 will be charged if the fine is paid within 14 days.

Failure to pay after 28 days will see the penalty increase by 50 per cent of the full charge.

This could see costs rise to £240 which must be paid within 14 days of receiving the new notice.

Motorists who refuse to pay this will see the fine registered as an unpaid debt which could incur extra debt registration fees.

Enforcement agencies could then visit a property to collect any outstanding debt plus any enforcement fees your case has picked up.

TfL says: “If we photograph your vehicle in the Congestion Charge zone and our records show that you’ve not paid the daily charge by midnight on the following charging day, we will issue a PCN to the registered keeper of the vehicle.

“This will outline the penalty charge that must be paid for the contravention date.”

TfL has revealed the new policy has been put into place to reduce road traffic and promote safe journeys on foot or bike.

It says analysis has revealed car traffic levels may have doubled without any changes to the congestion charge as commuters used vehicles instead of public transport.

The changes could lead to a reduction in car trips by one third while nitrogen oxide emissions could fall by 11 per cent.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “’The reality is that due to social distancing requirements public transport can only carry a fraction of the number of passengers compared to pre-pandemic levels – even when we are back to running completely full services.

“While capacity on the network needs to be preserved for those people who need it most, we can’t allow journeys that were previously taken on public transport to be replaced with car trips.”

Challenging the Congestion Charge zone penalty

TfL urges motorists to not ignore the PCN even if they believe the penalty has been handed out unfairly. Road users have 28 days from the date on the PCN to either pay the penalty to challenge the fine online or in writing.

Challenges can be made if you were not the keeper of the vehicle at the time of the offence or the vehicle was on hire to someone else.

The charge may also be waived if there is evidence you have already paid the charge or the vehicle was exempt from payments.

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