Drivers’ Hours Penalties: 465% up!

Posted 21/03/2019 : By: Tim Ridyard

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has confirmed there has been a massive increase in the number of drivers’ hours fixed penalties issued from March 2018 in the first twelve months since changes were introduced– from 4,236 to 19,723 penalties.  The number of roadside drivers’ hours checks fell from 80,418 to 73,147.  

It may be recalled that the law was revised to enable roadside fixed penalties to be issued for offences occurring not only on the occasion of the vehicle stop but for the preceding 28 days, as set out in our blog here.  

Previously a driver’s digital data and tachograph charts could be analysed at the roadside but any fixed penalties were confined to offences ‘committed on that occasion’ e.g.  break offences, exceeding daily or rest breaches relating to the ability to work that day.  All other offences occurring in the preceding 28 days either had to be dealt with through a Court Summons or might only otherwise potentially be dealt with through follow-up by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner.  

The ability to “catch” all offences has clearly seen a massive surge in penalties imposed although the maximum number of fixed penalties that can be issued remains limited to a maximum of five offences with a maximum of £300 per offence.  

What does this data tell us?

There has clearly been a significant increase in the income and value of the number of penalties issued since 1 March 2018 - from £478,400 to just over £3.6M.  (There has already been industry comment on how this income might be applied.)

As these are penalties payable by drivers they represent a very significant amount of net disposable weekly income, possibly several weeks pay.  

Further, as it is now easier for the DVSA to impose more fixed penalties covering the previous four weeks prior to the stop then, in turn, the greater number there are reportable to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner – as notification is mandatory under the Operator’s Licence.  In turn that raises the risk of DVSA compliance visits and explanations sought from the Office of the Traffic Commissioner. The more fixed penalties the greater the risk. Whether or not there is sufficient enforcement action against operators whose drivers repeatedly offend and this policy approach remains open to question.  The introduction of widespread use of road transport fixed penalties imposed on drivers alone, when both drivers and operators might previously have been prosecuted in Court, is still a debatable point.  

If you require further information and advice as to how to deal with roadside enforcement issues and drivers’ hours compliance, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.  

Ashtons Legal Road Transport Conference

Please note in your diary that our Ashton’s Legal Road Transport Conference will take place on Thursday 13 June 2019 at Trinity Park, Ipswich, Suffolk. Further details will be available soon but there will be a full programme of Ashtons Legal speakers to include employment law and presentations from sector guests, including the East of England and Senior Traffic Commissioner, Richard Turfitt. The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency will provide a general enforcement update. 

We also anticipate an autumn conference in the Cambridge area.  (Date to be confirmed)

For further information or register interest, please contact our Events Manager, Toby Whittacker-Cook on toby.whittacker-cook@ashtonslegal.co.uk.

We advise early registration.

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