Road transport solicitor Chris Powell advises operators on how to respond to a DVSA desk based assessment (DBA) audit.

Receiving a letter from the DVSA requiring you to hand over your transport records within 14 days is a stressful experience for any operator. It can often be difficult to know how best to respond. It may be that you don’t have all of the records asked for, or perhaps you were unaware you needed to keep them. This is unfortunately a common enough scenario.

If you are undergoing a DVSA desk based assessment or have been asked to complete an REO1 form, you need to be careful how you respond:

Do not ignore it

You will usually have just 14 days in which to provide your records. If you do not reply or if you simply ignore it, you can expect either a visit in person or a referral to a Public Inquiry with the Traffic Commissioner. If you cannot provide the records within the 14 days then you should contact the Traffic Examiner to explain this. Ask for an extension if necessary.

Get expert help

If you there are gaps or problems with your records you should speak to a transport lawyer before responding. They will be able to help you to craft a response to the desk based assessment. They can also speak to the DVSA auditor on your behalf. More importantly, a transport solicitor can advise you on what you need to do to meet your legal obligations going forward.

Having represented a great many transport companies at Public Inquiry hearings over the years, those with the best outcomes are usually always those who sought expert help at an early stage.

Check your tachograph records

You will usually be asked to provide your “raw” tachograph data along with any analysis summaries. Before sending these you should know whether there are any infringements or unaccounted kilometres. If there are, you need to be in a position to explain these and provide supporting evidence if needed.

Explain any missing inspection reports

If any of your PMI records are missing, why is this? If it is because a vehicle has been off the road for a period or has been disposed of, explain this. Without any supporting evidence a gap in your inspections may look like you have breached the conditions on your licence.

Take the long view with DVSA desk based assessments

If you suspect that your records are incomplete or that there are problems with the records you have, plan ahead. An unsatisfactory desk based assessment will almost always lead to a regulatory Public Inquiry with the Traffic Commissioner. It can even lead to prosecution, particularly if drivers’ hours offences come to light. It is therefore important to do everything you can to get your house in order as soon as possible. If you are unsure what you should be doing, consider a transport manager or operator licence refresher course or an independent compliance audit. These will all go in your favour at any future court or tribunal hearing.

For a free initial consultation with a transport lawyer, call today on 01159106218 or email transportlaw@rotheras.co.uk . We have many years of experience in guiding operators through DVSA compliance investigations. We also represent transport companies at Public Inquiry hearings with the Traffic Commissioner.