Incorrect or fraudulent use of a tachograph can have severe implications for both drivers and operators alike.  This article highlights 5 things you may not know about tachograph and drivers hours offences so that you can stay on the right side of the law.

  1. Tachograph offences can lead to prosecution and even imprisonment

Failing to comply with the rules on drivers’ hours can result in a criminal prosecution. The more serious the offence, the more likely it is that you will end up before the criminal courts. In the case of the most serious offences (for example deliberately pulling a card or using someone else’s card), you can even face imprisonment.

Some tachograph offences carry fines with no upper limit. Read our guide to tachograph offences for more information on the range of fines and penalties for different offences.

  1. DVSA may want to question you

It is usually DVSA’s (formerly VOSA’s) responsibility to investigate tachograph offences. If they suspect you of committing tachograph offences they will usually want to interview you under caution. Anything you say in this interview will be recorded and can be used as evidence for any future prosecution.

Whilst the DVSA do not have the power to arrest you themselves, they can question you and seize evidence, and can get the police involved to arrest you.

If you face being interviewed by the DVSA we would always advise instructing a transport lawyer. They can be present with you during the interview and can usually find out beforehand what the evidence against you is, and what sort of questions you will be asked.

  1. You may have to appear in front of the Traffic Commissioner

There can be serious consequences for operators and drivers if you have committed drivers’ hours offences.

If you are an operator and tachograph offences have taken place under your watch, you can expect to be called to a Public Inquiry by the Traffic Commissioner. For more information about Public Inquiries click here.

If you are a driver you may have to attend a Driver Conduct Hearing before the Traffic Commissioner. At the hearing the Traffic Commissioner will expect you to explain how the infringements occurred, and what you did about them. They have the power to suspended or revoke your licence.

  1. The DVSA take deception offences very seriously

Drivers and operators who falsify drivers’ hours records, interfere with a tachograph unit, use someone else’s card or “pull” their own card to hide insufficient rests and breaks can face very serious penalties. In some cases even a prison sentence. Drivers and operators in this position should seek legal advice from a transport lawyer straight away.

  1. There are only very limited situations in which you can drive without a driver card

If you have a valid driver card but it has been stolen, is permanently lost or is so damaged that it will not function in your vehicle’s digital tachograph then in some circumstances you can still lawfully operate the vehicle provided very strict rules are followed. You must:

  • Inform your operator and anyone else who needs to know
  • Immediately inform the DVLA that your card is lost, stolen or damaged and apply for a new card straight away-this should be issued within 5 working days (the maximum amount of time you can drive without a tachograph is 15 days)
  • Make a hardcopy printout of the digital tachograph at the start or end of each journey and write your name and driver number on the back of each page
  • Retain these records for 28 calendar days for inspection before passing them to the vehicle operator

If your card is not stolen, lost or damaged but has just expired you will have to wait until you have received your replacement card before you can drive again.

In cases where your card is not permanently lost but has just been forgotten, mislaid or left behind the driver must retrieve it and is not allowed to carry out any professional driving until they have done so.

If you are being investigated by DVSA for tachograph offences, get expert advice from a transport law solicitor as soon as possible. Our experienced transport team at Rothera Sharp represent operators and drivers nationwide in the Magistrates’ Courts, Crown Court, Tribunal Appeals and before the Traffic Commissioner. Call today on 0115 910 6218 for a free initial consultation.