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Traffic Commissioners are responsible for the licensing and regulating of the operators of heavy goods (LGVs) and public service vehicles (PSVs) and also the conduct of their professional drivers.
Drivers who hold vocational driving licences (LGV & PSV licences), may sometimes be called before a Traffic Commissioner to attend a Driver Conduct hearing to look into their conduct as the driver of a motor vehicle.
Normally, drivers will receive a letter from the Traffic Commissioner requesting them to attend a Driver Conduct hearing at a particular time, date and venue.
Driver Conduct hearings are normally held in public and are less formal than a traditional court hearing; they are always recorded.
The hearings deal with regulatory action against the driver’s vocational licence, normally following breaches of Road Transport Law or as a result of an application for a vocational licence, where there may have been a previous adverse history of driving.
Whilst the Traffic Commissioner has no power to take action against your private driving licence (this would be dealt with by the criminal courts), Traffic Commissioners are entitled to take action against your professional, LGV or PSV licence.
Typical breaches of Road Transport Law would include:
Drivers’ hours and tachograph offences;
Recent court convictions;
Failure to stop after an accident.
Traffic Commissioners are entitled to ask you questions about any other areas that concern them and give you the opportunity to respond to those concerns. In addition, if you hold or are applying for a PSV licence, you will be subjected to further scrutiny, where you have a previous conviction for certain serious criminal offences, such as sexual or violence related offences.
Whilst the Traffic Commissioner doesn’t have the power to force you to attend a conduct hearing, a failure to attend without an adequate excuse is likely to demonstrate to the Traffic Commissioner that you’re not willing to cooperate with the authority responsible for regulating you. If this happens, then in most cases the hearing would continue in your absence and you would lose your opportunity to respond to any of the concerns raised by the Traffic Commissioner.
Almost all drivers who are called to attend a Driver Conduct hearing, rely upon their licence for their livelihood consequently, most drivers tend to instruct a suitably qualified person, a practitioner specialising in Road Transport Law, to represent them at their conduct hearing. The Traffic Commissioner has discretion over who they will agree to hear representations from, but as professional lawyers, solicitors and barristers have an automatic right of audience.
If you have been called to a Driver Conduct hearing, then it is important that you fully prepare for the hearing. Not only should you consider seeking professional advice, but it is not unusual for drivers to also consider asking their employer or Transport Manager to attend, as this may help the driver’s case if he or she has a recommendation from their employer setting out the possible consequences of any adverse action against the driver’s vocational licence.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Traffic Commissioner will decide what action, if any, should be taken against your licence.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, the Traffic Commissioner is entitled to take action against your professional LGV or PSV licence, this might include:
A suspension of your vocational licence for a period of time;
Disqualification from holding the licence for a period of time;
Revoking your licence completely.
As a professional driver, whatever the outcome you have a responsibility to inform the Operator that you drive for.
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