The state agency that manages the national roads network is planning to spend €20m to chase toll dodgers for unpaid charges incurred at the barrier-free tolling section of the M50.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is currently seeking tenders from companies to provide debt-collection and enforcement services in circumstances where motorists fail to pay tolls accrued on the motorway's 'eFlow' system.
The estimated value of the contract is €20m over a six-year period, according to the tender documents.
The service is currently provided by Pierse Fitzgibbon Solicitors in Listowel, Co Kerry.
Barrier-free tolling was introduced on the M50 in 2008 in a bid to alleviate traffic congestion as a result of long queues at the toll plaza.
The electronic system allows for the application of tolls without vehicles having to stop or slow down.
Unregistered motorists have until 8pm the following day to pay the relevant charges.
Failure to pay results in additional penalties, after which an "evidence pack" on each case is handed to the enforcement contractor.
It then pursues a number of legal debt-collection actions on behalf of TII.
These include issuing legal demand letters, followed by pre-legal letters or draft claim notices.
The contractor is also responsible for conducting criminal and civil legal proceedings against offending motorists.
The service provider will also be expected to carry out debt-collection procedures in accordance with court judgements, according to the tender.
TII anticipates that between 14,000 and 18,000 legal demand letters will be issued each month under the new contract, along with 2,000 draft claim notices. Around 50 criminal summonses will be issued each month.
Tolling income from the M50 was €158m last year, according to the latest TII annual report.
Around €9m of this related to default tolls or penalties.
A spokesman for the roads authority said that revenue from TII's toll business pays for the M50 upgrade, maintenance and operation of the motorway, and contributes to the maintenance of the wider national roads network.
The new contract for an enforcement services provider is expected to be awarded to the successful tenderer next year with a view to commencing operations in June 2021.