DVSA Increases On-The-Spot Fines For Lorry Drivers
The Law Of… Penalising Hauliers
Lorry drivers could soon face the threat of increased fines if they are accused of breaching Drivers' Hours Regulations. Julie Robertson, a Haulage and Road Transport Solicitor, explains the changes in penalties.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is the government-sponsored body responsible for ensuring that haulage operators and lorry drivers are legal, safe and complying with the conditions of their licence. It is the DVSA, along with the police, that carries out roadside checks and issues on-the-spot fines to goods vehicle drivers found to be breaking the law.
How Much Is The On-The-Spot Fine For Lorry Drivers Increasing To?
The on-the-spot penalty is set to increase to £300.
The Drivers' Hours Regulations were introduced to prevent overtired lorry drivers from falling asleep on the road. The toughening of penalties is a response to the claim that the rules are still being flouted.
Any haulage driver caught at the wheel longer than is legally allowed, or found to be ignoring the directives pertaining to rest times and breaks, will be issued the £300 fine there and then. DVSA or police officers are able to check this at the roadside via tachograph records. Failure to pay the fine can result in prosecution.
What Are The Drivers' Hours Regulations?
The news of the increase in on-the-spot fines for Drivers' Hours Regulations offences was announced as part of measures aimed at targeting drivers who break the rules.
At present, EU rules state that lorry drivers can drive for no more than:
- 9 hours per day – extendable to 10 hours twice a week
- 56 hours per week
- 90 hours in any 2 consecutive weeks.
Breaks and rest times are also legislated for and are as follows:
- A minimum of 11 hours of rest is required per day
- An unbroken period of 45 hours rest must be taken every week following 6 consecutive days of working. This period can be reduced to 24 hours every other week
- A break must be taken following a maximum of 4 hours 30 minutes of driving and must be a minimum of 45 minutes long.
What Else Is Changing?
Along with the increase in on-the-spot fines, the draft regulations will give the DVSA power to issue penalties for any alleged offences that have occurred in the past 28 days.
Under current law, the fixed penalties can only be given on the day the alleged breach of Drivers' Hours Regulations took place. If a driver is accused of disregarding the rules at an earlier date, they have to be taken to court.
The proposed legislation also takes aim at drivers during their required rest periods. Further powers will be granted to fine a maximum of £300, those who spend the entirety of the 45 hours in their vehicle.
"Like the police, DVSA officers have the authority to pull you over and carry out a check on both you and your vehicle. These checks will either be carried out at the roadside or you will be directed to one of the DVSA's dedicated testing sites."
"Failing to stop for a uniformed and clearly identifiable DVSA officer is an offence, which will be recorded at the time and lead to an interview. This can result in possible court action or removal of your licence by the Traffic Commissioner at a later date. Therefore, it is always advisable to stop when ordered to."
"If it is alleged that you have breached Drivers' Hours Regulations and you receive an on-the-spot fine, you are under no obligation to accept it. You should seek legal advice from a professional solicitor with an expertise in haulage and road transport law, whose knowledge will maximise your chances of avoiding the fine and any subsequent punishment."
If you are a haulage operator or lorry driver in need of expert legal advice, contact Simpson Millar today.