Traffic Commissioner Appeal
Q. What powers does the Traffic Commissioner have?
The Traffic Commissioner can decide to:
refuse to grant a licence
refuse to vary an existing licence
attach conditions to a licence
grant a licence allowing fewer vehicles than the number applied for
impose financial penalties on registered bus service operators
end or suspend an existing licence
disqualify an individual or a company from having a licence
disqualify transport managers
We can help you to plan, prepare and present your case at a Public Inquiry, using over 10 years of experience of representing both the DVSA and Operators. According to the Traffic Commissioners Annual Report (2018-19) TC’s held 873 Public Inquiries, of which 314 licences were revoked. They also disqualified approximately 139 Transport Managers (a figure which has been steadily increasing for a number of years).
In our experience, the planning stage is key to achieving the most favourable outcome and the more time you have to implement any recommended changes, the better. If you have been called to Public Inquiry or you are waiting for a date to be allocated, then get in touch in order to obtain a quotation and take some early advice.
DVSA/Police interview advice
Q. Do I have to attend the interview?
It depends. It is important to establish the status of the request and whether you are attending as a volunteer or whether you will be arrested (police interview only).
All interviews should be conducted under caution, which explains your legal right to remain silent but the consequences of doing so if you decide to exercise that right.
In relation to Traffic Commissioners, there may be reputational consequences of failing to co-operate with an interview regarding your operator licence undertakings which may not apply if you are to be interviewed in relation to suspected criminal offences.
There are also other options to giving a ‘full and frank’ interview to include providing a written statement at the time or even preparing a statement with your solicitor that you can retain in the event you should need to rely on it at a later stage.
Q. What questions will they ask me?
Both the DVSA and the police will tell you in advance broadly what they are investigating. We may be able to secure further disclosure of the individual allegations/shortcomings in order to give you time to collate any relevant documentary evidence before the interview.
If this is not supplied in advance, ‘disclosure’ of the case under investigation will be provided before your interview and adequate time supplied so that you may take advice on how to proceed in light of the evidence.
Q. What will happen afterwards?
The DVSA can decide to:
take no further action
give you a warning
summons you to a hearing in the Magistrates Court
put the evidence before the Traffic Commissioner to determine whether to call you to a Public Inquiry
Q. When will I find out the result?
The officer may be persuaded to give you an indication on the day or may request time to consider the content of your interview before deciding how to proceed.
Although you would usually expect to find out within three months, some cases can take far longer to reach a conclusion.
Q. Do I need a solicitor?
As accredited police station representatives with over 10 years’ experience of representing suspects at the police station, we believe we can contribute to your case by giving you the confidence to make the right decision as to how the case should proceed.
As criminal solicitors first, we have handled cases from the most serious assaults to petty theft and serious fraud.
Driver Conduct Hearing
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’.