Established by Law 10,209/2001, the mandatory Toll Fare Voucher is an important mechanism related to the contracting of road transportation services. It consists of an obligation imposed on the shipper of the goods to provide advance payment for toll fees to independent drivers and transportation companies.
The legal mandate was created with the aim of developing a more dynamic and efficient system, facilitating cost control for transportation companies, as well as increasing efficiency at toll booths. This eliminates the need for toll payments in cash or by card, reduces the number of stops along the route, and minimizes the potential for fraud, among other operational advantages.
However, the aforementioned legislation imposes a significant penalty on the shipper who fails to provide the toll voucher. The fine amounts to double the value of the freight charge, not the toll itself. As a result, the judiciary is currently dealing with thousands of lawsuits related to the issue, given the importance of the freight transportation sector to the economy.
In this context, it’s important to highlight the recent legislative change brought about by Law 14,229/2021. This law removed any doubt about the applicable statute of limitations, as there were varying interpretations on this aspect (10, 5, or 3 years), setting it to just 12 months to claim any indemnification resulting from the failure to provide the toll voucher, counted from the date of the transportation. This represents a significant reduction in the statute of limitations, which demands greater attention from all parties involved in the freight transportation operation.
Despite the clarity of the legislation regulating toll vouchers, particularly concerning the penalties to be applied in case of non-compliance, it is essential to emphasize that jurisprudence is increasingly admitting the application of the legal doctrine of ‘supressio’, which translates into the loss of a right due to its prolonged non-exercise over time. Courts have dismissed cases where the transporter had already included the toll value in the informed freight charge, arguing to prevent unjust enrichment and in favor of upholding good faith in commercial relationships. Additionally, it is essential for there to be effective proof of the payment for the tolls in question, as merely presenting maps or travel routes is not sufficient. In conclusion, it’s important to note that the toll voucher rule does not apply to cases involving fractionated cargo, that is, when the transported goods are not addressed to an exclusive single shipper.
Given the recent legislative changes, as well as the highlighted controversial points in case law, it is recommended that preventive measures be taken, favoring full compliance with the current legislation, which consists of providing the toll voucher when contracting for goods transportation services.