There are very few things more stressful for an operator than a DVSA site inspection. It usually starts with a phone call, email or letter from a DVSA officer telling you that they intend to visit your operating centre and will need to see your records. It’s a daunting prospect, even for the most conscientious operator. The key thing is to prepare properly and know what to expect. Unless you are 100% certain that there are no “skeletons in the cupboard” you should strongly consider getting some expert help.
Below are just a few of the things you should expect:
1) You should expect a visit from either a Traffic Examiner or a Vehicle Examiner, or sometimes both
A Vehicle Examiner will typically want to inspect your fleet and your maintenance records. They will want to know that all your PMIs and MOTs are done on time and to a good standard, and all driver defects properly identified and rectified. A Traffic Examiner will typically also want to see your tachograph records and evidence that your drivers are not committing offences.
Whomever is carrying out the inspection, it is essential that you cooperate fully. Obstructing a DVSA officer can be a criminal offenc
2) They may want to compare your PMI records with your driver defect reports
It does not look good if drivers are reporting nil defects on a vehicle in the week before a PMI, only for systemic maintenance failings to be found during the PMI. It usually means the defect reporting is little more than a “tick box” exercise.
3) They will expect to see evidence of driver licence checks
How often do you check your drivers’ licences? If one of your drivers had been issued with a driving ban 6 months ago, would you know about it? The DVSA will want to see evidence that checks are being carried out on a regular basis.
4) They may want to carry out a physical inspection of your fleet
How confident are you that your vehicles are 100% free from defects? You do not want one of your vehicles to be issued with a PG9 during the course of an inspection. If a defect is found by the DVSA during an inspection, had it been picked up by your driver during his walk around check? If not, then something is going wrong somewhere.
5) They may want to ask you questions “under caution”
If a DVSA officer believes that an offence may have been committed, they may want to ask you questions “under caution”. An interview under caution begins with the wors“
You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidenc” e.
Everybody interviewed under caution has a right to legal advice and it is very important that you take it. This will usually involve rearranging the interview to a later date to give you the time to consult with a solicitor.
Do not delay – act now
If you are facing an upcoming DVSA inspection or have been asked to answer questions under caution it can be easy to “bury your head in the sand” and hope the best. This can be a costly mistake. Proper preparation and expert assistance at an early stage can make a radical difference to the outcome of the investigation.
Speak to a transport lawyer today on 0115 9106218 for a free, confidential telephone consultation.
We act fast and can:
- Arrange for an audit of your systems to help identify any problems and act on them
- Help you to put in place systems to ensure your business is legally compliant going forward
- Obtain prior details of the questions the DVSA may wish to ask you
- Represent you during your interview
An unsatisfactory inspection will usually result in a Public Inquiry hearing with the Traffic Commissioner, or even a criminal prosecution. Do not wait until the call in letter or the court summons to act.
Chris Powell is a transport lawyer at Rothera Sharp Solicitors