Driver Conduct Hearing
If you have received a letter from the Traffic Commissioner requiring you to attend a driver conduct hearing, you may be wondering what to do. In this section, we try to answer the most frequently asked questions to assist you in planning for the hearing ahead and achieving the best possible outcome in the circumstances.
Driver Conduct Hearing | Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why have I been called to a Driver Conduct Hearing?
Whether you hold an LGV or PCV licence, there are additional burdens placed on you as a professional driver.
You may have been requested to attend a hearing either in connection with an application you have made or in connection with your existing licence.
If you have applied for a licence, it is a matter for you to satisfy the Traffic Commissioner that you are a fit and proper person to hold that licence. The matters which the Traffic Commissioner can take into account are wider for bus drivers than they are for truck drivers.
The criteria are slightly different when the Traffic Commissioner is deciding to take action against an existing licence.
In practice, the referrals are made by the DVLA when a conviction/endorsement/FPN arises.
The most common reasons for a referral are are:
• drug or drink driving
• speeding - 9 points on licence
• Fixed Penalty Notice
• use of a mobile phone
• falsification/other driver’s hours offences
Q. I have already been dealt with by way of a ban at the Magistrates Court?
Even if you have already received a ban at the Magistrates Court, the Traffic Commissioner can still require you to attend a driver conduct hearing. This is because the criminal courts are concerned with punishment for the offence in question, whereas Traffic Commissioners are looking at whether you are a fit and proper person to continue to hold the vocational entitlement.
Q. Do I have to go to the hearing?
You will not always be required to attend a hearing as the Traffic Commissioner may have in mind a disposal. At that stage, you will can either agree to the proposed course of action, make representations as to why the proposal is ‘too harsh’ or request a hearing where you can make submissions in person.
If you don’t reply at all the Traffic Commissioner can proceed to take the action proposed in your absence. If your case was an application, it will be ‘refused’. If you then make another application, your case will be ‘flagged’ and you will find yourself back at the start again.
Although the Traffic Commissioner has no power to compel you to attend, the sanction is likely to be more severe without the benefit of hearing from you in mitigation.
Q. What do I need to do to prepare?
At the hearing, the Traffic Commissioner will normally ask you if you have brought along a copy of the call in letter and whether you have read the Senior Traffic Commissioners guidance on driver conduct. Click https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/583633/statutory-document-6-vocational-driver-conduct.pdf for more information.
Familiarity with that document and your obligations as a professional driver can help you to show that you are taking the matter seriously and understand the additional responsibilities placed upon you as the holder of a vocational licence.
You may also want to consider obtaining a reference from your current employer and attending any relevant courses.
Q. What will happen at that hearing?
You may have been called up with your employer (the operator) or to a day in which there are a number of cases being heard in relation to drivers only.
If you have been called up with an operator it is usual for your case to be heard first and the case in relation to your employer to follow. You can then decide if you want to stay for the duration or leave after your own case.
You will be asked to explain the circumstances which led to you being required to attend the hearing and set out what you have to say in relation to any shortcomings alleged. This is your chance to put across your version of events.
Unless the case has been entirely wrongly brought/put this is also your chance to express remorse for what has gone before and set out any steps which you have taken to avoid repetition. Any evidence of training which you have undertaken to specifically address the concerns raised in the call in letter are likely to be viewed favorably. You can also ask for references to be taken into consideration.
Q. What is the likely outcome?
The likely outcome will of course depend on the shortcoming alleged. Guidance on the starting points for Traffic Commissioners can be found in the Senior Traffic Commissioners Guidance document titled ‘Vocational Driver Conduct’.
Possible outcomes are:
• revocation and disqualification
• revert to provisional status and require you to pass the prescribed test of competence
Q. Can I appeal?
You can appeal against the decision to the local Magistrates Court or in Scotland to the Sheriff. Please see the relevant section on appeals against decision of the Traffic Commissioner under the heading ‘Vocational Drivers’.