DVSA (formerly VOSA) fines for HGV drivers

The DVSA (formerly known as VOSA) has the authority to issue fines to HGV drivers that fail to comply with road safety legislation and environmental standards, conducting routine and targeted roadside checks on vehicles on the UK’s roads.

As an executive agency of the Department for Transport (DfT), the DVSA exists to help people stay safe on Britain’s roads. It does this by carrying out a range of functions:

  • – helping people through a lifetime of safe driving
  • – helping people keep their vehicles safe to drive
  • – protecting people from unsafe drivers and vehicles

As part of its role of helping people keep their vehicles safe to drive, the DVSA is responsible for conducting annual testing of commercial vehicles (lorries, buses and trailers) through authorised testing facilities (ATFs) and goods vehicle testing stations (GVTS).

But what happens when drivers and their vehicles are found to breach DVSA legislation and standards?

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DVSA Roadside Checks on commercial vehicles

Since its inception on 1st April 2014, the DVSA has worked hard to keep Great Britain’s roads safe for all users, and to keep the road network running smoothly. If road accidents can be prevented by ensuring that vehicles are in a roadworthy condition and drivers are in a fit state to drive then all road users benefit.

dvsa checking in hgv cabIn 2015 the number of people killed on Great Britain’s roads was 1,730 – the lowest figure since records began. When compared to the number of people killed in 2005 (3,201) it is clear to see that DVSA roadside checks on commercial vehicles are of huge significance to improving road safety.

Under section 54 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 DVSA vehicle examiners in England and Wales have the power to stop vehicles and check for defects and compliance and to issue a fixed penalty notice for an alleged offence.

The rules are slightly different in Scotland. In England, Wales and Scotland, section 75 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 allows an examiner to issue a conditional offer of a fixed penalty for alleged offences. DVSA will only issue conditional offers of a fixed penalty for offences detected in Scotland.

So how much are the fines and what might warrant a DVSA fine to be issued to an HGV driver?

Fixed penalties and other fines

The DVSA will issue fixed penalties (fines) to drivers and operators that are found to be in breach of regulations. They are graduated, which means that the amount of a fine will vary depending on the severity of the offence or the circumstances the offence occurred in.

This applies to breaches of drivers’ hours rules and the overloading of vehicles.

Fixed penalty notices can mean any of the following:

  • · a £50 fine, non-endorsable
  • · a £100 fine, non-endorsable or endorsable, 3 penalty points
  • · a £200 fine, non-endorsable or endorsable, 3 penalty points
  • · a £300 fine, non-endorsable

It is possible for a deposit payment to be made for a fixed penalty or for a guarantee for a fine if the prosecution is going to court. Offences can also be contested in court by alleged offenders.

Roadworthiness fines

dvsa car fineRoadworthiness is enforced separately by both the DVSA and the police. If a vehicle is found to be in an unroadworthy condition then depending on how dangerous it is either a delayed or immediate prohibition will be handed out.

If these are awarded repeatedly then an operator may be called to a Public Enquiry. Where an HGV is found to be in a dangerous condition there is no limit to the fine that can be issued.

  • · Immediate prohibition: Your vehicle is likely to be immobilised and you could be prosecuted
  • · Delayed prohibition: You may be allowed to drive your vehicle away and you/the operator will have 10 days to get the issue/s fixed. You will need to get the vehicle inspected again and if it is a satisfactory condition the prohibition will be lifted.

Certain roadworthiness matters that warrant the issuing of a fixed penalty will also mean a mandatory endorsement of the driving licence including the awarding of penalty points.

There are two different types of prohibition that may be issued, roadworthiness prohibitions and ‘S’ marked roadworthiness prohibitions, which are looked at in more detail here:

Roadworthiness prohibition (PG9)

Where a mechanical problem is found, or where the condition of a vehicle’s bodywork and equipment is found to be an issue, a roadworthiness prohibition may be issued. Depending on the severity it could have either an immediate or delayed effect.

A list of defects (Categorisation of vehicle defects (publishing.service.gov.uk)) has been published by the DVSA which explains the circumstances that will lead to a prohibition is issued with immediate or delayed effect.

‘S’ marked roadworthiness prohibition

When the DVSA examiner or police officer believes a severe defect is the result of a significant breakdown in the maintenance procedures of a vehicle they may give an ‘S’ marked roadworthiness prohibition.

This type of prohibition would not be given for defects that you cannot have known about before you began your journey. This type of defect would be the result of negligence regarding the daily walk around checks and planned 6-weekly maintenance inspections which are essential if an operator’s licence is to be awarded.

This type of prohibition can start with immediate effect and both the driver and operator may be prosecuted. In the case of an ‘S’ marked prohibition being given the DVSA will follow up with an assessment of the operator’s maintenance procedures and record keeping.

Variation of roadworthiness prohibition

If an immediate problem has been identified but has been or can be temporarily or permanently repaired at the roadside you may be given a variation of roadworthiness prohibition.

This means that you can return to your operating centre or garage to permanently repair the initial problem and any other faults. The ‘variation of roadworthiness prohibition’ effectively changes an immediate prohibition notice to a delayed one.

Keeping any vehicle in a roadworthy condition is an essential part of vehicle ownership. Vehicles that are in good condition will be safer on the roads. Legislation concerning the roadworthiness of vehicles is covered by the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.

To find out more read our article on maintaining roadworthiness here.

Overweight truck fines

If a vehicle is found to be overloaded the driver will be issued with an immediate prohibition notice and the vehicle may be immobilised. Examiners have the authority to insist that the vehicle is moved and the load is either removed or redistributed.

Where a fine is issued for an overweight truck a copy of the notice will also be sent to the owner or operator of the vehicle.

The current graduated penalty levels for excess weight breaches are shown in the table below (source: DVSA).

SeverityEndorsableFixed Penalty Amount
Less than 10%No£100
10% up to but not including 15%No£200
15% and overNo£300

Exceeding driver hours fines

HGV drivers are governed by strict rules for drivers’ hours and tachographs. If a driver exceeds the number of hours that they’re allowed to drive, or doesn’t take the required number of rest breaks, they will usually get a £300 fine. However they can also be prosecuted or even have their vehicle immobilised.

Example: exceeding the 4.5 hour driving limit

Severity - time driving beyond the 4.5 hour limitEndorsableFixed penalty amount
Less than one hourNo£100
One hour up to (but not including) 2 hoursNo£200
Two hours and overNo£300

 

The legislation shows the first hour as a £100 penalty, but DVSA examiners will generally allow 15 minutes’ leeway before issuing a notice. However, if you repeatedly use those 15 minutes then the examiner may still take action (source: DVSA).

Since March 2018 the DVSA has been able to issue fines not only for on-the-spot breaches of driver hours regulations but also for up to 5 driver hour breaches within the last 28 days. That means a total fine of £1,500. If tachograph rules are also breached a further 5 fines may be issued, again at £300 each, meaning that the total fine issued on just one day could be up to £3,000.

According to RoSPA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, driving whilst tired could be responsible for 1 in 5 of all accidents and up to a quarter of serious and fatal crashes. About 40% of sleep-related accidents involve commercial drivers.

Between April 2015 and March 2016 6,300 drivers’ hours fines were issued (source: DVSA), reflecting the scale of the problem and demonstrating why the rules changed allowing historic fines to be issued.

Insecure load fines

Where a load is found to be insecure, both the DVSA and police will impose roadside prohibitions and fixed penalties and may go on to prosecute. Having an insecure load is a basic breach of the requirement to maintain a vehicle in a roadworthy condition.

In the most severe insecure load cases an operator may be called to a Public Inquiry which could result in the removal or suspension of the operators’ licence.

Hazchem prohibition

A Hazchem prohibition will be given to a driver when a problem is found regarding the carriage of dangerous goods. The prohibition will usually be lifted once the problem is fixed.