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Unfortunately I didn't know that Czech Republic doesn't have tollbooths- drivers are required to purchase a sticker before getting on any highway - until I arrived in Prague.

What happens next? I imagine they're going to ticket my rental company (Avis) - but what are the fines, and is there any way I can pay online immediately to reduce the fine (like I do in California)?

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    BTW, because I (justifiably) got some flak for a driving question here, I want to disclaim that I normally would research things like this thoroughly before going on trips, but I'm in a situation where I'm winging a trip around Europe while working remotely; it's been hectic. Whenever I have WiFi, I'm either working or trying to prioritize a number of things to research—where I'm going next, a list of cafes with WiFi, taking screenshots of maps (apparently the GPS I rented doesn't do Czech), etc. So, some details have fallen through the cracks. – Andrew Cheong Jul 3 '15 at 19:47
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    Hasn't your rental car already got a vignette? – Michael Hampton Jul 3 '15 at 21:02
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    @MichaelHampton if he rented it from somewhere other than CZ, then probably not. – CMaster Jul 4 '15 at 8:56
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    from my experience in a nearby country where the same system applies, they usually don't detect these with automated cams because they are too small/were not designed for that purpose. So you might not get a fine at all if the police didn't stop you. You should just buy a vignette. I think rental car companies pay the fines and then bill you afterwards so it's not like you can do anything about it, considering that THEY will get the fine. Since it's a foreign car, it will also arrive by snail mail through a private debt collection agency if there are no special agreements in place. – Formagella Jul 4 '15 at 11:53
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    I'm from Czech Republic and I can confirm @Formagella comment. Also the vignette is sold on every petrol pump. – Rfilip Jul 5 '15 at 6:32
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+50

This site is arguably the most up-to-date source of information on the Czech motorway network and its regulations. To date it only mentions police checks. Never does it talk about automatic checks. Indeed the motorway vignette is a 2-part sticker. One part is to be stuck to the windshield, whilst the other is to be kept as a proof of purchase and is to be shown when being checked by police. The reasoning here is that it would be somewhat hard to show the proof of purchase to a camera driving by an automatic control.

Quoting from the linked site:

A proof of payment of the fee is a 2-part sticker. Part one of the sticker is to be placed on the inside of the windscreen. Part two of the sticker is to be retained.

[...]

During police checks, both parts of the sticker are required.

Indeed the rest of the internet seems to agree with this - for example here is another site vaguely mentioning police checks. It is therefore safe to assume that, to date, the payment of a motorway sticker for vehicles with a gross mass < 3.5t in Czech Republic is checked only when one gets stopped at a manned police control point. In other words, there seem to be no automatic controls for such vehicles. Lorries and other >3.5t gross mass vehicles however have their own automatic toll-payment mechanism, on which you can find more information here.

Having said this, at the time of writing the penalty for driving with an unvalid/expired vignette or without one are of (quoting from the afore-mentioned website):

Fine of up to CZK 5,000 or a penalty notice of up to CZK 500,000 in administrative proceedings.

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