New powers allowing councils to fine utility companies that fail to give proper notice that they intend to dig up the roads have come into force.
Councils can now issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to any utility company that fails to give correct notice before digging up the roads.
However, few utility companies will be concerned about the severity of the penalties they face - an FPN fine is just £120, which is reduced to £80 if paid within 29 days.
Although councils may still decide to prosecute these offences.
The maximum fine that magistrates can impose for such offences is £2,500 in addition to costs.
Councils can now also impose roadwork conditions.
For example, they can stop the companies doing work during rush hour or after a particular time.
"Disruption from street works costs the economy about £4.9 billion each year and ongoing roadworks are among road users' biggest concerns,” said transport minister Rosie Winterton.
"Utility companies need to dig up the road to maintain essential services such as gas, electricity and water.
"However, they need to follow the rules we have put in place."
FPNs can be issued for certain offences, such as failing to give enough notice about major works and not telling councils when the works are completed.
Previously, councils had to take court action.
Authorities already have the power to charge companies if their works take longer than planned.
Fines currently range from £100 to £2,000 a day.