The government is sticking to its guns when it comes to cashless toll transactions. Now that we're past the December 1 deadline, the Toll Regulatory Board has released the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the contactless toll scheme.

Per the IRR, the government requires toll operators (Metro Pacific Toll Corporation and San Miguel Corporation) to have an initial minimum load of PHP 200 for Class 1 vehicles and PHP 400 for Class 2 and 3 vehicles at the motorist's expense. It will be up to the vehicle's owner if they want a larger amount for their initial load. Also, the new rules dictate that there shall be no minimum load and that the balance you have has no expiration.

And now, for the important part, the fines. There are three major penalties every motorist has to be aware of with this new rule. These violations include driving with no RFID, driving with an insufficient load, and possessing a fake RFID sticker. The fine for lining up in RFID lanes without the tag falls under disregarding traffic signs, and you'll have to cough up PHP 1,000 for that. The same goes for staying in the RFID lane by mistake if you intend to go to the stickering lane.

As for driving with an insufficient load, that's another PHP 1,000 penalty, plus the toll fee - this violation falls under obstruction. Then there's the possession of a false RFID sticker (wrong class), which also carries a PHP 1,000 fine.

So, how can you avoid all that? Plan your trip by getting RFID stickers right now if you plan to travel in or out of toll roads as soon as possible. That avoids the hassle of having to wait in line on the day of your long drive. RFID tags must come from the proper channels as well. You can get one on-site at stickering lanes or authorized off-site facilities. That way, you are assured that the electronic tag on your vehicle is the real deal.

Last but not least, top-up your load as often as possible, especially if the balance is low. Remember, there is no more minimum load required, and the money stored in the system will still be valid even after months, or years, pass.

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