Guide: Drivers' hours and records

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Blake Morgan's Driver Defence team is the leading team of specialist road traffic lawyers in the South of England.  We have been recognised by legal directory Chambers and Partners: A Client's Guide to the Legal Profession 2017 as a Band 1 firm in this field.  Our team of specialist lawyers travel all the country to help motorists facing a driving ban or having penalty points put on their licence. Our work has taken us to Magistrates and Crown Courts all over the country.  Many of our cases have reached the Higher Courts. 

The drivers of large goods and passenger-carrying vehicles are regulated in regard to their hours of work and the records they must keep by domestic and EC regulations. The Driver Defence team have in-depth expertise on advising drivers and operators of such vehicles regarding records, whether any exemptions apply, when such a record has to be started and concluded, and whether such records should be completed manually and/or automatically.

Non-compliance with the requirements can result in a prosecution being brought by the police or the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency against the drivers and operators of such vehicles. Infringements are punishable by the courts by way of financial penalties.

Non-compliance with the relevant provisions can also result in operators and drivers being required to attend before the Traffic Commissioner at public inquiries. With regard to the issue of public inquiries see below in 'operators licensing, public inquiries and driver conduct hearings'.

Prosecution of any operator or driver for breach of the Construction and Use Regulations can also have serious implications both in terms of having to appear before the courts and/or the Traffic Commissioner. Breaches of the Regulations in regard to steering, brakes or tyres attract endorsement in addition to financial penalties. Only a few solicitors in England and Wales are sufficiently experienced to represent drivers and operators in this specialist area and the Motoring Offences team has the relevant experience to ensure that all operators and drivers receive the appropriate advice and representation.

Operators licensing, public inquiries and driver conduct hearings

The Traffic Commissioner has considerable powers to revoke or limit an Operators Licence. Revocation of an Operators Licence invariably has catastrophic consequences as it can impact upon earning capacity. The statutory and regulatory framework upon which the Traffic Commissioner acts is complicated and the preparation for and representation at Public Inquiries is a highly specialised area. No operator should appear before the Traffic Commissioner without experienced legal representation. Barry Culshaw of the Drivers defence team is equipped to provide the required specialist advice and representation in such circumstances.

Public Inquiries can be triggered by any one or more of the following events:

  • If the operator and/or the operator's drivers have been prosecuted.
  • If the operator has been a subject of a recent police/VOSA investigation dealing with maintenance and/or drivers’ hours and records issues and the investigation has uncovered problems.
  • If the operator has been subject to a complaint in respect of health and safety considerations.
  • if the operator has a long outstanding application in respect of the grant of or a change in the terms of an Operators Licence.
  • If the operator has received an environmental complaint.
  • If the operator has received complaints from local residents with regard to an application for an Operators Licence or in regard to the manner in which the operation is being operated.
  • If the operator has unresolved issues with HM Revenue and Customs, is in difficulty satisfying the financial standing requirements of their existing licence, considers that it is insolvent on either a balance sheet or cashflow basis or enters into a formal insolvency process. Visit our insolvency and business recovery webpages for more information.
  • If an operator feels that it may be affected by any of the above mentioned considerations, specialised professional legal advice should be sought at the earliest possible opportunity.

Any driver who has received a letter from the Traffic Commissioner’s Office requesting an attendance at a Driver Conduct Hearing should seek specialised professional legal advice as soon as possible as his/her vocational licence may be at risk.

Penalties

There are penalties for failure to comply with these requirements that can affect both the individual driver and fleet operator.