A tachograph is used to monitor professional drivers’ speed, driving time and distance travelled. Tachograph offences (infringements on the legal use of a tachograph), whether for commercial or private use, can have serious consequences for drivers, operators and other undertakings, particularly where there are health and safety concerns such as driver fatigue. In some instances, cases will be referred to the traffic commissioner’s office to review a driver or operator’s license.
This post will cover some of the basic rules, common tachograph offences and penalties, such as tachograph infringement fines, that may occur from improper use.
If you drive a goods- or passenger-carrying vehicle that falls under the EU or AETR rules, then you must record all your driving with a tachograph and must adhere to the posted limitations. To avoid committing tachograph offences, you must not drive more than:
- Nine hours in one day (or ten hours twice a week)
- 56 hours in one week
- 90 hours in two consecutive weeks
You should also observe rules about rest periods, including taking a 45-minute break for every four and a half hours of driving and an unbroken rest period of 45 hours every week.
You can find detailed information about driving hours rules on the government’s website.
In order to remain compliant with tachograph rules and avoid tachograph infringement fines, operators must download the data from a smart or digital tachograph every 90 days and from driver cards every 28 days to ensure that all rules and restrictions are being met.
For their part, drivers must ensure that their tachograph is in good working order and that the drivers’ card is kept clean with all information up to date. They must also be able to produce charts and records for the previous 28 days at the roadside should an enforcement officer request it.
Examples of Tachograph Offences
Some of the most common tachograph offences include:
- Using someone else’s drivers card or permitting someone else to use yours.
- Driving without a drivers card or with a tachograph that is not in good working order.
- Failing to provide necessary records to an enforcement officer upon request.
- Falsifying or failing to report tachograph records – this is typically seen when drivers remove their drivers’ card from the tachograph in order to exceed their driving hours without being recorded.
When a driver is alleged to have broken the rules, they may face tachograph penalties. Some offences, such as driving without a tachograph card, have penalties that will depend on whether or not the offence was intentional – for example, forgetting to use your drivers’ card versus removing it in order to exceed hours.
- Where a tachograph offence is noticed during a roadside inspection, the driver may be brought in for an interview under caution. This will often lead to a further inspection of that driver’s operating centre.
- Where a tachograph offence is noticed during the inspection of an operating centre, it is the operator who may be interviewed under caution.
If the driver holds a vocational license or the operator holds an operator’s license, this can be referred to a public inquiry by the traffic commissioner, who will be able to decide if action should be taken against either the driver or operator’s licenses.
In cases where an offence is found, sanctions are determined based on the severity of the infringement and whether the safety of other road users was brought into question. Typical tachograph penalties include:
- Rectification notice – this encourages operators to resolve any infringements within a certain time period in order to avoid prosecution. This does not apply to breaches of safety rules.
- Prohibition – this bans the driving of a vehicle for an amount of time until the criteria given on the prohibition note are met. Bans may be given for a specified length of time, or it may be unspecified. In the latter case, the vehicle should not be driven again until the prohibition is lifted in writing.
- Fixed penalties
- Prosecution – cases that feature more serious infringements, such as falsified or altered records with the intent to deceive or tampering with a tachograph’s seal to the same end, may lead to prosecution against the driver or operator.
- Referral to the traffic commissioner – enforcers may refer cases to the traffic commissioner’s office if they believe they might warrant administrative action against the driver’s vocational license or the operator’s license.
At St Pauls Chambers, members of chambers are well-versed and highly experienced in technical aspects of road transport law, including tachograph penalties. The team is headed up by specialist barrister James Lake, who has extensive experience with cases of tachograph offences, driver conduct hearings and referrals to the traffic commissioner’s office.
To instruct one of our skilled barristers or discuss your case, please get in touch with us today.