In 2014 the very popular Dartford Crossing removed it’s payment booths and now, instead of stopping at the barriers to make payment, motorists either have to pay the charge in advance or alternatively; make payment by midnight the following day. The new payment system is called the Dart Charge and is administered by Highways England, and is very similar to the Transport for London (TfL) Congestion Charge scheme….it even has the same red C logo. Last year, over 50 million vehicles used the Dartford Crossing !!
How does the Dart Charge work?
When a vehicle uses the Dartford crossing, number plate reading cameras, lasers and tag readers identify the vehicle to see how much needs to be paid. If a Dart Charge account has been set up in advance, then the required payment will be deducted by Highways England.
How much is the Dart Charge?
Between the hours of 10pm and 6am there is no charge to use the Dartford Crossing. At all other times, the Dart Charge is payable and the amount varies according to the vehicle class which is detailed here.
Vehicle class A: Free
Vehicle class B: £2.50
Vehicle class C: £3.00
Vehicle class D: £6.00
How to pay the Dart Charge
For frequent users of the Dartford Crossing, the simplest (and cheapest) payment method is a pre pay account. Users receive a discount of up to one third on every crossing. Fleet operators are able to set up a fleet account and discounts also apply. Payment of the Dart Charge may also be made as follows:
Online by visiting the Dart Charge website here.
By phone on 0300 300 0120 (5am to midnight)
By using the Pingit app on any smartphone, available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone
Pay as you go: Drivers can register their vehicle and payment details and automatically pay the Dart Charge each time they use the crossing. Details here.
At any one of the thousands of retails outlets displaying the Payzone sign
What happens if I fail to pay the Dart Charge by midnight the following day?
If you do not pay the Dart Charge by midnight the day after using the Dartford Crossing, you will be sent a Dart Charge Penalty Charge Notice and the amount will significantly increase to £70. The amount is discounted to £35 if payment is made within a strict period of 14 days beginning with the date of service of the PCN. The applicable Dart Charge will also be added to the Penalty Charge Notice (which in the case of cars is set at £2.50).
If you do not pay or make representations against the Dart Charge Penalty Charge Notice before the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the date of service of the notice, a charge certificate may be issued and the penalty charge of £70 increases by 50% to £105. A different charge certificate is issued depending on whether the road user had made representation, an appeal or neither. The Charge Certificate is deemed ‘served’ on the second day after it is posted.
Failure to make payment within 14 days of service of the notice, may result in Highways England (who administer the Dart Charge) registering the debt at the Northampton County Court. If full payment is not received within 21 days of a Court Order, a warrant of control may then be issued and passed to one of the following three bailiff companies to enforce…..Marston Holdings Ltd…..Equita Ltd or JBW Group Ltd. At this stage, you will also be liable for any additional bailiff/enforcement agent fees details of which can be read here.
Can I appeal the Dart Charge?
If you wish to dispute the Penalty Charge Notice you will find full details on page 2 of the Dart Charge Penalty Charge Notice. Representations must be made within 28 days of the date of service of the PCN. If your representation is rejected you can further appeal the Dart Charge to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT). Details can be read here
Dart Charge and bailiff enforcement.
If you have received a letter, or a visit, from either Marston Holdings, Equita Ltd or JBW Group in relation to a Dart Charge that you knew nothing about, (most commonly, because all notices had been sent to a previous address), then all bailiff enforcement can be suspended by completing an Out of Time Witness Statement (TE7 and TE9) and sending it to the Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC). We have a page dedicated to this subject here.
Note from Bailiff Advice Online:
If you have any queries about a bailiff letter or a visit in relation to an unpaid Dart Charge, you can email a question to us using our popular Question page. Alternatively, you can contact us by phone. Please refer to our Contact us page for further details.