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Lawyers For Professional Drivers Glasgow & Scotland

The umbrella term of professional drivers covers a range of vocations. It includes the drivers of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs), drivers of Passenger Service Vehicles (PSVs), Hackney Cab drivers as well as Private Hire drivers. There are certain requirements and rules that a professional driver must follow to keep their licence. It may be the case that you require representation at a licencing hearing, need help pleading your case before the Traffic Commissioner or even want to know how to apply for a licence. This post will act as a brief introduction into the lives of professional drivers and what to do if you need help.

GETTING A PROFESSIONAL LICENCE

  1. I. WHY DO I NEED ONE?

Section 110 of the Road Traffic Act states that by having a specific licence granted by the Secretary of State, an individual will be authorised to drive a large goods vehicle or passenger-carrying vehicle. It is illegal to attempt to drive a PSV or HGV with just your normal driving licence. This is necessary as people driving these kinds of vehicles have the potential to cause more danger than someone driving a regular car. They are bigger, heavier, and in terms of PSVs, carry a lot more people. For this reason, it is vital that the person holding the licence is deemed fit and responsible.

  1. II. PSV LICENCES

A professional driving licence is required if you are intending to operate a vehicle for hire or payment that can carry 9 or more passengers. It is also required if you’re operating a smaller vehicle, like a taxi, which carries passengers and charges separate fares for the journey.

There are 4 types of PSV licences:

  • A standard licence for national operations only;
  • A standard licence for national and international operations (allowing you to take passengers abroad as well as within the UK);
  • A restricted licence (allowing use of 1 or 2 small vehicles with neither carrying more than 8 people); or
  • A special restricted licence (generally used to operate a licenced taxi on a local service. A local service is one where stops are no more than 15 miles apart; at least one stop is within the area of the district council that issued the licence; and the service is registered with the local Traffic Commissioner).

To get a licence, it’s as easy as filling out an online application. You will usually get a decision within 7 weeks. It’s illegal to operate a vehicle before you have officially got your licence. The Traffic Commissioner will make their decision based on a number of factors. They also have the power to suspend or revoke your licence if they suspect you’ve been breaking its terms. Once you’ve got your licence it won’t have an expiry date, but you’ll have to confirm your details every 5 years.

You must also pay a fee to get your licence, as well as a continuation fee if you’ve got a special restricted licence. The fees are generally: £209 for standard and restricted licences and £61 for special restricted (taxi) licences.

If your application is refused, you have the option to appeal.

  • III. HGV LICENCES

In order to be a goods operator, you require a good vehicle operator’s licence. Note, that an HGV is a lorry, van or other vehicle with either a gross plated weight of over 3,500kg or an unladen weight of more than 1,525kg.

There are three different types depending on the work you do:

  • A standard national licence means you can carry your own and other people’s goods in the UK and internationally. You can also take loaded trailers to or from ports within the UK as part of an international journey, as long as your vehicles do not leave the country.
  • A standard international licence means you can carry your own and others’ goods both in the UK and on international journeys.
  • A restricted licence means that you’re licenced to carry your own goods but not anyone else’s.

As with a PSV licence, you must pay an initial fee and a continuation fee every 5 years. You’ll also have to advertise your application for a licence and your proposed operating centre(s). You must designate a transport manager if applying for a standard licence, provide information about your finances and have a maintenance contract with a garage/agent to do safety inspections and repair vehicles.

YOUR LICENCE CAN BE REVOKED!

Again, the Traffic Commissioner can take your licence away if you break its terms. The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) carries out regular roadside vehicle checks and checks on operating centres. They submit information to the Traffic Commissioners. Your vehicle can be immobilised if a DVSA roadside check finds something seriously out of line.

  1. I. WHY?

Your licence can be taken away, you can be restricted, or you can be suspended by the Traffic Commissioner if you:

  • Break any of the terms and conditions of your licence;
  • Don’t meet health and safety conditions;
  • Are convicted of certain offences;
  • Are made bankrupt;
  • Use a place not listed on the licence as an operating centre;
  • Are given a prohibition notice by the DVSA following an inspection;
  • Use a goods vehicle with an unauthorised weight;
  • Your vehicle is unfit or overloaded;
  • And so on.

HGV drivers most commonly face prosecution for breaching rules on hours, for careless driving (including using mobile phones), and speeding.

The Traffic Commissioner may want you to attend a public inquiry. This is to obtain more information and consider whether action against your licence is necessary. If this happens, you may want to seek out an experienced legal expert to give you advice.

  1. II. EXAMPLE: EXCESS WEIGHT OFFENCES

HGV drivers can face prosecution for carrying excess weight. This can be split into two offences: (1) overloading vehicles and (2) using a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

  1. OVERLOADING VEHICLES

If you contravene a weight requirement applicable to a PSV or HGV yourself or cause or permit someone else to do so, you are guilty of an offence. The DVSA usually impose a fixed penalty for a first minor overloading offence and it increases from there. Fines can range from £100 for being 5-10% overloaded, to £300 for being 15-30% overloaded. Being more than 30% overloaded can end in court and the immobilisation of the vehicle.

As an HGV driver it is a defence to say that you were on your way to the nearest weighbridge to check the weight of the vehicle, or you were proceeding from a weighbridge to the nearest point at which you could reduce the weight to the relevant limit.

  1. USING A VEHICLE IN A DANGEROUS CONDITION

More serious is the offence of using a vehicle that is so overloaded that it has become dangerous. You are guilty of this offence if you use, or cause or permit another to use, a vehicle where the number of passengers (for PSVs) or the weight, distribution or position of the load (for HGVs) is such that the use of the vehicle involves a danger of injury to any person.

Since the offence is more serious, so are the penalties. You can receive a level 5 fine, a discretionary ban, and an obligatory 3 penalty points. It could also cause the Traffic Commissioner to take issue with your licence.

  • III. EXAMPLE: TACHOGRAPH OFFENCES

Tachographs record information about driving times, speed and distance. They are used to make sure that drivers and employers follow the rules on drivers’ hours. Exceeding the allowed hours or failing to keep proper records can lead to large fines and court costs. At worst, falsifying records can also lead to prison sentences.

For minor offences – for example, simply exceeding the daily hours – DVSA can impose a fixed penalty. This can range from a £60 fine for being up to an hour over, to £200 for being over by 2+ hours.

  1. IV. EXAMPLE: MEDICAL GROUNDS

It is also possible for the Traffic Commissioner to revoke your licence on medical grounds. As a professional driver, you have a legal obligation to notify the DVSA if you have a medical condition or disability that could affect your ability to drive. Otherwise you could be prosecuted.

Anyone can notify the DVSA if they are concerned that you aren’t medically fit to drive. Once the DVSA have been notified they will seek advice from your doctor on whether you are fit to drive. If you aren’t, your licence will be revoked. You can reapply in which case your application will be assessed by the medical board. You must support this application with medical evidence from professionals as this may give you the best chance of getting your licence back.

This is a hugely in-depth area with a breadth of conditions to be followed. If you are in any doubt, contact an experienced road traffic lawyer. They are able to answer your queries based on your specific circumstances.

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