Section 55 Penalties and liabilities for charges
97.Sections 55 and 56 allow the Scottish Ministers to make regulations to provide for the fair and effective enforcement of road user charging schemes. This includes arrangements for adjudication. The Act provides that non-payment of a road user charge will be a civil matter rather than a criminal offence, and outstanding charges will be recoverable as a civil debt. Removing a charging scheme penalty notice without good reason will however be a criminal offence. Deliberate tampering with any in-vehicle or roadside equipment with intent to avoid payment is identified as being of a more serious nature and will therefore be subject to greater maximum criminal penalties. The various subsections set out the power to make regulations covering each element.
98.Subsection (2) sets out the powers to make regulations covering penalties, including surcharges or discounts. This would allow the charging authority, for example, to increase the level of fines for persistent offenders or late payment, or offer a discount for the prompt payment of a fine.
99.Subsection (3) makes it clear that the registered keeper of the vehicle will generally be liable to pay any road user charge and any penalty notice. However, there will be instances where the keeper of the vehicle is not responsible, including where the vehicle has been stolen or where the vehicle in question is owned by a hire company. Regulations will set out the detail.
100.The level of fines is in line with standard criminal offences and penalties.