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Prosecutions

Are you facing a transport related court prosecution?

The latest DVSA (formally called VOSA) annual report says that they made a total of 7,434 prosecutions in the year up to 2014 with a total of 5,283 convictions. 

As a transport business, you operate in a very heavily regulated industry. Breaches of regulations lead to prosecution in the criminal courts.

According to the DVSA report, the most common offences prosecuted are as follows :

  1. Drivers hours

  2. Tachograph and records

  3. Driver licence

  4. Overloading

  5. Operator licences

  6. Plating and testing

  7. Construction and use

  8. Road tax (VED)

How do you know if you’re facing prosecution?

You’ll know for certain when you get a Magistrates Court Summons landing on your door step. However, you’ll probably have a rough idea its coming as most likely you’ll have been interviewed by DVSA or the police and told that your file will be considered for possible court action.

When you get the summons, there could be only one charge but typically there might be four or five and, in some cases we’ve handled, up to 100 or more.

What is the process?

When you receive the Magistrates Court Summons it will set out a date and time when you have to attend court. At this point you should take legal advice as soon as possible. It may not always be necessary for you to physically have to go to court. In many cases, especially on the first hearing, a solicitors letter to the court is all that is necessary. However, there are some types of case where you are required by law to physically attend the court and if you don’t, the court might issue a warrant for your arrest.

When the matter comes before the court, there are various things that might happen. If you are pleading guilty then the best thing is to do so at the first hearing as you will get a discount off the fine for doing so. If you plead not guilty then the hearing will automatically be adjourned for about 6 to 8 weeks for a date when a full trial will take place with witnesses and evidence etc.

If the charges are complex and more time is needed to take full advice or investigate things further, then an adjournment can be requested, and usually granted by the court. 

In more serious cases (such as falsification of tachographs or misuse of a driver card for example) the Magistrates will transfer the case to the Crown Court. The Crown Court have stronger sentencing powers than the Magistrates Court. The Crown Court can give you an unlimited fine and send you to prison. In these more serious cases the job of your solicitor will be to persuade the Magistrates not to send your case to the Crown Court but to keep it in the Magistrates Court where generally they don’t have the power to send you to prison and where fines are limited to £5,000 per offence. 

What’s the outcome

If you plead not guilty and the court finds in your favour then that will be the end of the matter. If you are found guilty or plead guilty then you’ll be fined (and in the most serious cases, could be sent to prison).

Convictions mean a criminal record but sometimes more importantly they can lead to action by the Traffic Commissioner. You are required to formally notify the Traffic Commissioner of convictions. If you don’t notify them, the Traffic Commissioner will still be alerted to them anyway. Some types of convictions are deemed so serious in law that they automatically mean you will lose your operators licence. In other cases, even less serious offences can mean that the Traffic Commissioner concludes you are no longer fit to hold an operators licence or that other disciplinary action is taken against you.

We can represent you at any Magistrates Court in the whole of England & Wales. 

How would we be able to help you ?

A key benefit of getting early legal advice is that where there are multiple charges, it is often possible to negotiate with the prosecution for a reduction in the number of charges. There are various grounds that can be deployed to achieve this including finding weaknesses in the evidence and arguing technicalities.

It is always worth getting expert advice on any charges. Most transport related offences are very technical in nature, particularly tachograph, drivers hours and operator licence matters. It is often possible to find weaknesses and points of legal dispute in the prosecution case. This is so (sometimes especially so) with what might at first appear to be a no-hope defence.

Where guilty pleas are unavoidable, we put forward your side of the story to the court to persuade the court to be as lenient as possible with fines and other penalties. This is done at a court hearing but often this can be done by way of written submission. Written submission can be a more convenient and cost effective way to put your mitigation to the court along with guilty pleas.

What to do if you need help with a prosecution

The best way to find out if we can help you and if you’d like us to work for you is to pick up the phone and call us. We’ll be happy to speak to you, listen to your problem and give you some feedback on how we might be able to help.

Get Help With a Transport Law Prosecution throughout England & Wales

You contact us at any time, free and without obligation, on 0800 1777 522.


Call us for free on 0800 1777 522


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We advise and represent transport businesses throughout the whole of the UK in all parts of England, Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland

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