Tachographs & Drivers’ Records

Tachographs & Drivers’ Hours – EU and domestic rules on tachographs and drivers’ hours can be complex and confusing so it pays to obtain legal advice in connection with tachographs and record keeping.

The EU rules apply to the “carriage by road” of:-

  • Goods where the vehicle/combination exceeds 3.5 tonnes maximum permissible mass or;
  • Passengers by vehicles constructed or permanently adapted to carry more than 9 people, including the driver.

Any vehicle used for the carriage of goods on public roads is in scope of the rules even when unladen, and regardless of whether the vehicle is classified as a goods vehicle.  EU legislation lays down exemptions which apply automatically to both national and international journeys.

Drivers’ Hours Rules require breaks from driving and prescribe daily driving, weekly and fortnightly driving limits and minimum rest requirements.  We regularly act for drivers and Transport Operators prosecuted for drivers’ hours’ offences and would always advise Operators and Drivers to take advice and secure proper legal representation.  If nothing else, because Courts are generally unfamiliar with the workings of tachographs.

Transport Operators must always properly instruct and organise drivers’ work to comply with the rules and not make any payments which might encourage breaches of the drivers’ hours rules.  They should also make regular checks to ensure the drivers’ hours rules are met.

Although a Transport Operator can be held automatically liable if one of its drivers commits a drivers’ hours offence, it may that prosecutions will not always succeed, particularly if it means the DVSA have to show that the Operator “permitted” the commission of the offence.  It is often the case that good Operators have proper control systems in place and therefore a defence to a prosecution may exist.  Again, it is often the case that several offences are brought arising from the same circumstances and the prosecuting authority might agree with your Solicitor to withdrawn certain allegations on the basis of guilty pleas to others. Sometimes rather than prosecute a transport operator they are taken straight to Traffic Commissioner’s public inquiry instead.

Offences in respect of false records and data most regularly occur.  The maximum penalty on summary conviction in the Magistrates’ Court is the statutory maximum but these offences may also be tried in the Crown Court where on indictment, the penalty is up to two years imprisonment.

We can advise upon exceptions and exemptions as well as defences and mitigation.  Sometimes there legal arguments but there are limited defences available.  Certain offences can be absolute in nature but there still may be the opportunity to receive an absolute discharge, depending upon whether there was any intentional or negligent failure on the part of the Transport Operator.  The words “cause”, “use” and “permit” in the summons have legal implications and we can advise upon these and the responsibilities of the Transport Operator.  We can also advise upon the likely consequences for the Operator’s Licence flowing from any prosecutions and assist an Operator with reporting any convictions.

Expert Advice – Tachographs & Drivers’ Hours

For expert advice upon tachograph offences and prosecutions contact one of our Specialist Road Transport Solicitors on Freephone 0800 088 6280 or email enquiries@rotherasharp.co.uk