Driver conduct refers to the choices a driver makes while operating their vehicle – how fast they drive, what state they are in when they get behind the wheel and how long they have been driving are some of the factors that make up a driver’s conduct. Unacceptable driver conduct from those who operate heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) or public service vehicles (PSVs), such as buses or taxis, can lead to a driver conduct hearing in front of the traffic commissioner.
What Is a Driver Conduct Hearing?
Driver conduct hearings are tribunals undertaken by the traffic commissioner in light of allegations of poor driver conduct by drivers with a professional or vocational license. They aim to determine whether or not a driver is considered suitable to maintain their professional license.
When called to a traffic commissioner driver conduct hearing, a legal professional can assist and advise you throughout the process.
Driver Conduct Offenses
Some offences that could result in a traffic commissioner driver conduct hearing include:
- Using a mobile phone or other handheld device while driving (which, as of 2021, includes scrolling through playlists, playing games and filming or taking photographs).
- Falsifying or otherwise tampering with tachograph records.
- Exceeding the legal limit of hours driving.
- Failing to stop following an accident.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Speeding or interfering with a speedometer.
- Any conviction that results in a custody sentence, suspended prison sentence or community penalty.
This list is not exhaustive, and every case will differ depending on a variety of factors. At the driver conduct hearing, the traffic commissioner will review not only the circumstances of the incident but also the driver’s history.
For example, if the driver has previous convictions or a history of drink driving, these can negatively influence the outcome. However, if the driver has had no other convictions or another road user’s negligence also contributed to the incident, that prior good conduct can positively impact their case.
What Happens at a Driver Conduct Hearing?
The traffic commissioner will usually speak to the driver, and they will be given the opportunity to speak to their conduct. The driver can also speak through their representative. The objective behind the tribunal is to ascertain if the driver is considered fit to hold their license.
Cases of driver conduct are typically held in public, meaning that it will be recorded and members of the public will be free to sit and watch. In certain circumstances, the traffic commissioner may decide that a private hearing will be fairer.
Outcomes of a Driver Conduct Hearing
Depending on the individual case and any mitigating or aggravating factors, a driver conduct hearing with the traffic commissioner can have a range of outcomes. There may be no further action taken from the hearing or the driver may receive a formal warning. However, in more serious cases the driver could have their professional license suspended or revoked. They may also be asked to retake the Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification, and have their license suspended pending that criteria being met.
At St Pauls, members of chambers have extensive experience in traffic commissioner public inquiries, including driver conduct hearings. Our team lead, specialist barrister James Lake, has operated in cases of vocational driver conduct throughout the country and has been commended for his meticulous preparation of materials for his cases.
If you or your client require assistance or advice on a driver conduct hearing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.