There are ways to prevent the common faults that the police and DVSA officers find when inspecting commercial vehicles. For example, HGV walkaround checks make truck driving (and the roads) safer.
So, what happens on roadside vehicle checks for commercial drivers in United Kingdom? This guide explains how being stopped by the police or DVSA can result in fixed penalties and roadside prohibitions.
The police, or Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) officers, can ask any commercial driver to stop their vehicle at the side of the road.
They also have the authority to stop other large vehicles, such as buses, coaches, lorries, trucks, and vans.
The powers of police officers and DVSA allows them to carry out roadside spot checks on vehicles and issue prohibitions, where it becomes necessary.
Several things can happen if you get a roadside prohibition. As a rule, it prevents anyone from driving the vehicle until the problem has been fixed.
As a commercial driver, committing a motoring offence means you could also get a fixed penalty. The majority of fixed penalties follow a graduated system.
So, the type of fixed penalty you get would generally depend on the actual circumstances of the incident and the seriousness of the offence committed.
Important: It is the driver's responsibility to check and ensure the vehicle is in a safe, roadworthy condition.
All DVSA officers would be wearing yellow high vis jackets. The jacket will have either the VOSA or the DVSA logo displayed on it. Officers who conduct roadside vehicle checks for commercial drivers will always carry their DVSA warrant card with them.
The markings on DVSA vehicles is a black and yellow print showing on the side. There will also be either a Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) or a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) logo displayed on the car bonnet.
Often, authorised officers will carry out vehicle checks at the edge of the roadside. In some cases, they may also make vehicle inspections at dedicated testing sites. Either way, the primary purpose of roadside checks is to keep unsafe vehicles off the road.
The officer would make a signal for the driver to stop the vehicle. Officers would then check to see if it is breaking any motoring rules and regulations, such as:
Authorities can impound the vehicle if the driver has already committed a series of serious offences. All foreign-registered vehicles must also meet the same level of compliance as those registered in the United Kingdom.
In case you were wondering:
Carrying a high-value load means you would be able to keep the engine running, the doors locked, and the windows closed, until you are sure a bona fide police or DVSA officer has stopped you.
Failing to stop and pull over the vehicle, when asked to do so by a uniformed officer, is a motoring offence. They would create an official record of the incident and then interview you at a later date.
Important: If you do not stop you may face court action or have the case reported to the Traffic Commissioner. If so, they can either suspend or completely remove your operator's licence.
Making sure the vehicle is roadworthy is the responsibility of the driver and the operator. Thus, maintaining the roadworthiness of your vehicle will help you avoid problems with official roadside vehicle checks.
Before setting off on a journey, it is the driver who must make the final check and ensure the vehicle is safe to drive.
As the driver, you should carry out the HGV driver's daily walkaround check, which must include:
Legislation introduced in February 2021 bans the use of tyres on front steered axles of lorries, buses, coaches, and single wheels of minibuses (9-16 passengers seats) if the tyre is more than ten (10) years old.
The Department for Transport reminded vehicle owners that new measures to improve road safety now include horseboxes that are over 3.5 tonnes.
Note: The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency also produce guidance notes on the daily checks public service vehicle (PSV) drivers must carry out to make sure their vehicles are safe to drive.
The driver is also responsible for reporting vehicle defects. You should make a report in writing to the person in charge of fixing defects on vehicles within the organisation.
This kind of report should include the name of the person reporting the defects, and:
As the operator, you must carry out safety inspections before using any vehicle for the first time. This also applies to any vehicles that you hire, lease, or 'borrow'.
Operator responsibilities also include:
Note: Only trained inspectors can carry out safety inspections during a roadside vehicle check for commercial drivers. They must also have a good working knowledge of all appropriate DVSA inspection manuals.
There are two types of roadside prohibition that a police officer, or one from the DVSA, can give to commercial drivers. It would either be an immediate prohibition or a delayed prohibition.
As a general rule, the one you get would depend on how dangerous the vehicle is (before fixing the faults).
Note: The Department for Transport (DfT) provides further safety advice for drivers and operators of vehicles that will be carrying overhanging loads in the United Kingdom.
A prohibition can come into effect immediately. In most cases, it would result in the immobilisation of the vehicle. Besides not being able to drive it, getting immediate prohibition can also result in a prosecution.
You can also get a prohibition that has a delayed effect. It means you would be able to drive the vehicle away.
The operator would have a period of time, up to ten (10) days, to get the fault(s) or defect(s) fixed. The officers would then reinspect it and they must remove the prohibition before you can use it on the road again.
Important: Give the prohibition notice to the operator and the owner of the vehicle. The details of how to clear a prohibition will be written on the reverse side of the notice.
Immediate prohibition notices are given out for driving an overloaded vehicle. The examiners may decide to have it immobilised or direct you to a nearby area. It may result in the load being redistributed or removed altogether.
They would also send a copy of the overload prohibition notice to the vehicle owner (or operator).
Vehicles with roadworthiness defects (e.g. bodywork, equipment), or mechanical problems, can get this type of prohibition. It can result in an immediate or a delayed effect - depending on the severity of the defect.
Note: A DVSA publication explains the categorisation of vehicle defects found during roadside inspections and what action they would take afterward.
Examiners may issue an 'S' marked roadworthiness prohibition if they believe there is a severe defect. It is most likely to happen when there is a significant breakdown in the maintenance procedures for the vehicle.
They do not give out 'S' marked prohibitions for vehicle defects that drivers could not have known about before the journey began, such as:
This type of roadside prohibition can start with immediate effect. It can also result in a prosecution for the driver or for the operator. Either way, DVSA officers would follow up with an assessment of the maintenance procedures carried out by the operator.
It is not uncommon for drivers to temporarily or permanently fix an immediate problem at the roadside. Even so, you could get a variation roadworthiness prohibition if others remain.
The variation prohibition allows drivers to return to their operating centre, or a garage, so they can get the initial problem fixed and repair the other faults.
There can be instances where an examiner issues a 'variation of roadworthiness prohibition' and then changes it from an immediate notice to a delayed one.
Here's a good example:
You should expect to get an immediate prohibition notice for a damaged vehicle wing if it is in danger of falling off. An examiner would consider it to be a potential road safety hazard.
But, the examiner might accept a 'temporary' repair if you are able to secure the wing back into its original place.
As a rule, commercial drivers would get a fine for a breach of drivers' hours regulations. But, it can also result in a prosecution or the officers might have the vehicle immobilised.
You could get a hazchem prohibition if inspectors find a problem with the way you are carrying dangerous goods (e.g. hazardous chemicals). In most cases, you can get the prohibition lifted by fixing the problem.
You should follow the roadside prohibition guidance if you disagree with the prohibition. As a general rule, that means making a complaint to the local police force or to the DVSA office that handed out the prohibition.
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
Telephone: 0300 123 9000
Monday to Friday: 7:30am to 6pm
United Kingdom telephone rates.
Important: Do not get the vehicle repaired or adjusted while disagreeing with a roadside prohibition. You can also complain about enforcement action to the DVSA if you want to challenge the outcome (within 14 days of getting the prohibition).
You must have a valid operator's licence to drive certain types of vehicles for any type of business. Other sections explain the rules in more detail about:
Several things can happen if you get caught driving a commercial vehicle without a valid operator's licence. They can impound and scrapped the vehicle after twenty one (21) days.
Either you, or your employer, would need to appeal to one of the local Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain to avoid this type of enforcement action.
You can only make an appeal to the traffic commissioner if:
Note: The Traffic Commissioner may rule that the impounding was correct and justified. If so, the authorities may still decide to scrap the vehicle.
You can get a fixed penalty from the police or from a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) officer. The circumstances around the incident, and the seriousness of the offence, usually determine exactly how much you would have to pay.
The types of driving offences that you can get a fixed penalty notice for, include:
The fines for fixed penalties range between £50 and £300. But, you may get taken to court for driving offences that are more serious. In this case, a magistrate would decide how much fine you need to pay.
Note: You can read more about the way DVSA graduated fines and financial deposits work for offences found at roadside vehicle checks for commercial drivers.
Besides a fine, some driving offences result in penalty points being added to your licence (called endorsements). So for example, driving a vehicle with defective brakes would mean you get three (3) points on your licence and a fine of £100.
Note: Receiving an endorsable offence means you would need to present your driving licence within fourteen (14) days.
Providing you have a satisfactory address in the United Kingdom, you would get 28 days from getting a fixed penalty notice to (either):
You would get a 'conditional offer' in Scotland (instead of a fixed penalty notice). You would also get 28 days to pay it starting from the date of issue. You can get prosecuted for not paying the fine.
Note: A satisfactory UK address is one that you can be easily contacted through. The authorities do not usually accept agency, bed and breakfast, hotel, or solicitor addresses.
Not having an address in the United Kingdom would mean you need to pay a 'financial penalty deposit'. So, this would be (either):
In either case, the maximum amount you would need to pay as a financial deposit is £1,500. But, not paying it straight away means the officers may not allow you to continue your journey in the vehicle.
Note: Authorities use the money from deposits to pay any outstanding fixed penalties or court fines. They will refund any money left over from the deposit after the payment of all fines. Failing to pay the deposit means the vehicle will be immobilised.
You can use the service on DVSA roadside fines portal to pay:
You would get an email and a text message from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). The notification gives you a payment code, the amount you need to pay, and the deadline for payment.
Before paying a DVSA roadside fine online it is best to prepare:
Note: Failing to pay your fine on time means your lorry, bus, or coach could end up immobilised. You may also have to pay extra fees or get taken to court. Information explaining how to pay a DVSA roadside fine is also available in Welsh language (Cymraeg).
DVSA Customer Service Centre
Telephone: +44 (0)300 123 9000
Monday to Friday: 7:30am to 6pm
Find out about call charges.
To pay by phone you will need at least one of the following:
Only United Kingdom drivers or operators can pay a DVSA fine by post. When paying by cheque or postal order you should make it payable to 'DVSA Fixed Penalties Office'. Remember to write your payment code on the reverse side.
DVSA Fixed Penalties Office
Note: You can also pay in person by cash given to the DVSA examiner at the time that they issue the fine.
Several things can happen if your vehicle is immobilised by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) officers or police officers. The DVSA and police have the power to immobilise vehicles after stopping them.
The main reason DVSA immobilise vehicles is when drivers have committed a serious offence that warrants an 'immediate prohibition'.
Put another way:
The authorities use immediate prohibition to prevent risks to road safety. A typical example, and reason for using it, would be for a tired driver or an unroadworthy vehicle.
In simple terms, you would not be allowed to drive the vehicle away from the roadside until you get the problem sorted out.
DVSA officers, or the police, can also immobilise a vehicle at the side of the road after they issue an immediate prohibition, because you (any):
As a rule, they will not give an immediate prohibition to all vehicles. In fact, they will give consideration to any special circumstances before issuance, such as:
Officers from the DVSA, and the police, use a steel cable to immobilise vehicles and secure it with a padlock. They will fit it around the vehicle wheels and attach a warning notice.
The warning notice will provide information on how to get the vehicle released from the authorities. But, to get it released, you would need to:
Note: Removing the warning notice, or interfering with the immobilising device, is an offence. An official guide explains when and why DVSA can immobilise vehicles and how drivers and operators can avoid it.
The main section contains a list of lorry and bus driving rules and regulations for drivers of heavy goods vehicles (HGV).
Roadside Vehicle Checks for Commercial Drivers in United Kingdom