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Driver Conduct Hearings and the Traffic Commissioner: What Should You Expect?

driver conduct hearing

Transport Lawyer Chris Powell Powell and trainee solicitor Joanne Derbyshire explain what to expect if you have been called to attend a Driver Conduct Hearing with the Traffic Commissioner.

Written by
Transport Solicitor
Chris Powell
Senior Associate Solicitor

We understand that being called to a conduct hearing can be incredibly stressful for you. Your licence, livelihood and reputation could be at stake.

At first, you may feel confused about what the process is, or what you can do improve your position when you come face-to-face with the Traffic Commissioner.

We are aware of how confusing or daunting these hearings can be. So here are a few things to know about driver conduct hearings:

 

What is a Driver Conduct Hearing?

If you are a professional driver who holds a vocational driving licence, you are regulated by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner. If the Traffic Commissioner has any concerns over your conduct, they may feel it necessary to call you to a conduct hearing to discuss these concerns.

By calling you to a hearing, the Traffic Commissioner is giving you the opportunity to answer any questions that they may have.

This could be about an offence or poor conduct you are alleged to have committed. They can then decide whether or not to take action against your vocational drivers’ licence.

 

Why Have I Been Called to a Driver Conduct Hearing?

There are a number of road transport offences and conduct issues that will be of concern to the Traffic Commissioner. Some of which are as follows:

  • Driving an overloaded vehicle
  • Not having an up to date CPC qualification
  • Motoring points or convictions for offences committed either at work or in your private car, for example:
    • Drink driving
    • Using a mobile phone
    • Speeding
    • Failing to provide driver details
    • Committing drivers’ hours and tachograph offences, or falsifying tachograph records

Often, allegations which at first can appear very serious can turn out to be less serious once the full facts are properly explained.

 

What Could the Traffic Commissioner Do?

Whilst they cannot make any ruling against your personal car licence, the Traffic Commissioner has the power to take action against your professional HGV or PSV licence.

After looking at the evidence they have, and having listened to your responses and the information you have provided, they may choose to do one of the following:

  • Revoke your professional licence
  • Suspend your licence for a period of time
  • Order you to undergo a re-test
  • Disqualify you from applying for a licence for a period of time
  • Issue you with a warning
  • Take no further action

Your outcome will depend on a number of things as well as statutory guidance. First of all, how serious the allegations against you are. Second, how you have responded to them, and thirdly, how well you can present your case.

 

Do I Have to Go to the Hearing?

A Driver Conduct Hearing is not a criminal court. This means that nobody can force you to attend a conduct hearing.

However, if you fail to attend without providing an acceptable reason to the Traffic Commissioner, they may infer that you do not wish to co-operate with the process and the hearing will continue in your absence.

By not attending the hearing, you miss out on the opportunity to respond to any of the Traffic Commissioner’s questions or concerns. This means you will not be able to provide any explanations for the offence or conduct.

By attending the hearing, you have the chance to explain what happened and why, and to put forward any mitigation that you may have.

Whilst these are likely to vary depending on the conduct issue or offence in question, examples of some mitigating factors are:

  • No previous convictions of the licence holder
  • The incident being an isolated event
  • Exceptional circumstances, such as an emergency or life-threatening situation
  • Positive response to rehabilitation, training programmes, monitoring and disciplinary procedures
  • Driver’s employer caused or permitted the issue to arise

It is therefore always important to co-operate with the Traffic Commissioner’s Office, both prior to and in attendance at the hearing.

 

Do I Have to Let My Employer’s Know?

Regardless of what outcome the Traffic Commissioner reaches in respect of your hearing, you have a professional duty to let your employer know.

In some cases, your conduct hearing may be connected to a DVSA investigation into your employer and their practices.

If this is the case, the Traffic Commissioner may choose to hold your hearing at the same time as a Public Inquiry for your employer.

The Traffic Commissioner may ask you some questions about your employers and how they manage their drivers, and this may place you in a tricky position.

In these cases, it is always recommended that you seek legal advice from a Transport Solicitor and qualified law firm to help you navigate these issues. Contact us on 0115 910 0600 or email us at enquiries@rotheras.co.uk.

 

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