Driver licensing, Driver CPC & Driver conduct
Ensuring that only qualified, trained, healthy and competent employees drive vehicles on its behalf is a fundamental requirement of any business.
Employers must ensure there are robust systems in place to ensure driving licences are held by driving staff, that they are regularly checked and that there is clear evidence to positively demonstrate the system of checks if asked by authorities, such as DVSA or police. It is an offence for any business to permit an employee to drive without the necessary licence, it also invalidates insurance cover.
Drivers must be medically fit to drive and should be required to notify an employer of any issues that may affect that fitness.
Some of the rules relating to driver licences can be complicated. Mistakes can be made by operators and drivers who may believe a licence provides cover it does not. Often this can relate to the use of trailers or expired licences. This can lead to the prosecution of operators and drivers by police or DVSA. Ashtons Legal can provide advice and representation as necessary.
As well as there being proper checking procedures, it is also strongly advised that contracts of employment are drafted to cover driving licence requirements. Ashtons Legal can also assist with this process by providing tailor-made contracts of employment that cover issues specific to driver employees.
Driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence)
Drivers of goods or passenger vehicles that require any Category C1, C1+E, C, C+E or D1, D1+E, D or D+E licences must complete 35 hours periodic training every five years conducted by an approved training body. There are some exemptions to this, including non-commercial journeys or where vehicles are carrying materials or equipment, for the driver in the course of their employment and driving is not the driver’s principal activity.
A Driver Qualification Card is required and must be issued to the driver. It must be carried when driving and it is an offence not to do so - a court fine or fixed penalty may be issued if it can not be produced on the spot. It is also an offence not to be Driver CPC-qualified.
Drivers who obtain their vocational driving licence after 10/9/2009 (goods) or 10/9/2008 (passenger) have to undergo additional test modules, normally done when taking the driver licence tests. Thereafter they must complete their 35 hours’ training within five years to retain the Driver Qualification Card required. Existing licence holders before those dates were not required to take any test modules but must still continue to carry out five-year training cycles calculated from the date last completed.
For advice as to when Driver CPC is and is not required we can provide assistance. It should not be assumed that the exemptions mirror other rules, such as those relating to tachographs.
Driver conduct hearings
If a driver is disqualified from driving by a court then he or she cannot drive any class of vehicle until the licence is restored.
A commercial driver must be fit to hold a vocational licence and disciplinary action can be taken by the Traffic Commissioner against a driver who engages in adverse conduct. This is in the form of suspending or removing the vocational part of the licence. He or she may also defer the return of the commercial licence following a period of disqualification.
The Traffic Commissioner invites drivers to a driver conduct hearing at which action is considered. The suspension or removal of the vocational licence can have serious consequences, not least the loss of income. The starting points for regulatory action against licences is set out in the Senior Traffic Commissioner Statutory Guidance and Statutory Directions relating to Vocational Driver Conduct. By way of example, a first offence of misuse of a mobile phone whilst driving a commercial vehicle has a starting point of four weeks’ suspension.
Ashtons Legal can assist drivers facing Traffic Commissioner conduct hearings by providing advice and representation.