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France’s first barrierless péage: what penalty for forgetting to pay?

The motorway toll on the A79 aims to prevent vehicles from having to slow down or stop, to save on fuel and emissions

We look at what you risk if you forget to pay the toll on France’s barrierless péage Pic: Hadrian / Shutterstock

France’s first barrierless motorway toll (péage) opened on the A79 in Allier on November 4, with the intention of speeding up journey times for drivers and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

The ‘flux-libre’ (freeflow) road was formerly the N79. It is an 88km section of road between Montmarault (Allier) et Digoin (Saône-et-Loire). The state requested that the road be changed into a paying motorway in a bid to improve safety.

Read more: First barrier-free paying motorway opens in France

It is hoped that the lack of toll booths will prevent vehicles from having to slow down or stop, thus saving on fuel and exhaust emissions. 

However, the absence of a physical pay machine may lead some to forget that the road is still a péage. We look at what you risk if you fail to pay. 

How do I pay? 

When you drive underneath the gantries on the libre-flux motorway, cameras will read and record your number plate or detect the télépéage subscription fob fitted to the car. 

If you have a subscription, you can therefore use the road without needing to do anything, as the toll cost will be applied to your account. 

However, if you are only an occasional user, you must pay using the Aliae website or via the app. 

You can either register your vehicle and payment details on the website, or can pay as you go and enter your details manually each time. 

There will also be 16 payment booths at the border of the motorway, which will enable people to pay by card or with coins if they prefer.

If paying online, you must do so in the 72 hours after you use the péage. It is also possible to do so in advance, up to a week before your journey. 

What happens if I pay late or not at all? 

If you fail to pay the toll, you will face fines increasing depending on the time scale. 

  • For a payment that is three to 15 days late you will have to pay the toll and a reduced fine of €10
  • After 15 days, you will have to pay the toll and a €90 fine
  • After 60 days, the case will be transferred to the Officier du ministère public (OMP) and the fine will be increased to €375.

If you fail to pay five tolls within a year and let each case go to the OMP, you risk a fine of up to €7,500.

Drivers should note that if they receive a penalty notice for an unpaid toll even though they have not used the road in question, it is probably a scam. 

Fraudsters may either use duplicate number plates to pass charges onto the real owner, or send fake notifications from the authorities demanding payment of a fine.

An EU-data sharing agreement will enable French authorities to chase up drivers from other countries in the block who fail to pay the toll. The UK is no longer part of this agreement due to Brexit, but drivers with British number plates would still be expected to pay the toll charge as normal.

Related articles 

Motorways tolls in France set to rise: what can drivers expect in 2023

‘Worker fuel allowance’ to benefit half of French households, PM says

France rules out reducing motorway speed from 130km/h to 110km/h

Driving in Europe? These 20 countries send speeding fines to France

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