New rules are now in force for Light Goods Vehicle Operators in Europe

Department for Transport

The Department for Transport has issued the following update:

On 21 May 2022, new EU rules came into force requiring users of vans and other light goods vehicles weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes and which transport goods for hire or reward from the UK into, or through the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, to hold an International Operators’ Licence.

If you do not possess this licence, you may now find your business disrupted. You could also face enforcement action, including fines, impounding or being asked to return to the UK, depending on the country that you are stopped in.

Although the rules are now in force, if you need to travel to the EU for hire or reward, you can still apply. To reduce any possible disruption, you should select the interim licence option.

If you already hold an International Operators’ Licence for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) you can add extra LGVs to your existing licence. 

Visit GOV.UK for further information on the new EU rules and what to do next.

You may also need to make posting declarations for journeys to the EU

If you’re transporting goods between two points in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway for commercial purposes, (known as cabotage or cross trade), you must now make a “posting declaration”, which means registering the operator, driver, driver employment details, dates of travel, and the vehicle used.

The information you need to sign up and start declaring is available on GOV.UK. Or, you can access the EU Portal and FAQs now.

Self-Driving buses, shuttles and delivery vans could soon hit UK roads

Th UK Government’s latest press release describes a new £40 million competition to kick-start commercial self-driving services, such as delivery vehicles and passenger shuttles:

A new £40 million competition to kick-start commercial self-driving services, such as delivery vehicles and passenger shuttles, has been launched today (Monday 23 May) by Lord Grimstone, Minister for Investment. The funding could create tens of thousands of skilled jobs across the UK over the next decade.

The ‘Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility’ competition will provide grants to help roll out commercial use self-driving vehicles across the UK from 2025, delivering convenience for consumers and making journeys safer, greener and more reliable.

The competition will help bring together companies and investors so that sustainable business models to be rolled out nationally and exported globally.

Types of self-driving vehicles that could be deployed include delivery vans, passenger buses, shuttles and pods, as well as vehicles that move people and luggage at airports and containers at shipping ports.

Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone said:

Self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise people’s lives, whether its by helping to better connect people who rely on public transport with jobs, local shops, and vital services, or by making it easier for those who have mobility issues to order and access services conveniently.

This funding will help unlock the incredible potential of this new and growing industry, building on the continued development of self-driving technology, attracting investment and helping make our transport cleaner, safer and more efficient.

Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said:

We know that self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise the way we travel, making our future journeys cleaner, easier and more reliable. But our absolute priority is harnessing the technology to improve road safety.

With around 88% of road collisions currently caused by human error, this funding will drive the introduction of new technology to improve travel for all, while boosting economic growth and highly skilled jobs across the nation.

The competition will cement the UK’s reputation as a global leader in self-driving vehicle technology, unlocking a new industry that could be worth £42 billion to the UK economy by 2035, potentially creating 38,000 new skilled jobs.

£1.5 million of the funding will be used to study and explore using self-driving vehicles as a means of public transport that could provide an alternative to mass transit systems. This includes, for example, using self-driving vehicles on routes separated from other traffic that could be cheaper and more flexible than new railway lines.

The UK government is continuing to develop a comprehensive legal and assurance framework for self-driving vehicles to ensure the safety of the technology. The government announced a Transport Bill in the recent Queen’s Speech that will introduce comprehensive legislation for self-driving vehicles to enable safe and responsible deployment.

The first vehicles to be listed as self-driving in the UK – vehicles approved under the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) Regulation – could be available for people to purchase, lease or rent later this year. Vehicles will undergo rigorous testing and will only be permitted to drive themselves when they have met stringent standards.

The work undertaken by the government and its partners has already ensured that the UK has a proven track record in leading connected and self-driving vehicle innovation, enabling joint public and private investment of £440 million.

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Chief Executive Mike Hawes said:

Self-driving vehicles offer major benefits to society – improving road safety, supporting new jobs and economic growth, and enabling greater mobility for everyone – so the UK is rightly seeking to be at the forefront of this technological evolution. Recent regulatory reforms have helped Britain establish itself as a leader in the rollout out of self-driving passenger vehicles, and today’s announcement is a significant step towards self-driving public transport and goods delivery services becoming a reality. This new funding competition will help drive innovation and, potentially, private investment in UK automotive, ensuring cutting-edge self-driving technology finds a clearer path to UK roads.”

Self-driving buses, shuttles and delivery vans could soon hit UK roads thanks to £40 million government-funded competition – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Mental health and failure to provide

As we close out Mental Health Awareness Week, we’d like to highlight a common but serious motoring offence we deal with that sometimes has mental health issues at the heart of its defence.

The offence is failing to provide a specimen for analysis.

Section 7(6) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 makes It an offence to fail, without reasonable excuse to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis when required to do so by an officer.

This is a serious offence which can attract a custodial sentence in the most severe cases. Drivers who are convicted of failing to provide a specimen also face a mandatory disqualification from driving for at least twelve months, a criminal record, and are classed as a high-risk offender, meaning that they must pass a medical before the DVLA will return their licence.

Are people with mental health issues more likely to fail to provide a specimen?

Being arrested and taken to the police station is a stressful experience for anyone. However, for people suffering with mental health conditions such as PTSD, and anxiety, the experience can be unbearable. They might be confused, frightened and suffer from panic. It is in these heightened states that motorists with mental health problems are required to undergo the evidential drink or drug drive procedure, in some cases, without them having consumed any alcohol or drugs in the first place.  

Not surprisingly, some motorists feel overwhelmed by the situation and either refuse to provide a sample, or are simply unable to do so, either through panic or hyperventilation for example.

When this happens, the person is typically charged with failing to provide a specimen and given a Court hearing in the Magistrates’ Court. They would then face all of the criminal consequences as a result.

But is this fair? In my experience of dealing with failure to provide allegations, people with mental health problems are not treated fairly at the police station. They may even raise their mental health issues to the custody sergeant or investigating officer during their time in custody simply to have it overlooked, or to be told they’re faking it. This is wholly unacceptable.

There is a defence open to people with mental health problems

Fortunately, there is a defence that people with mental health problems are able to use, provided they can show a ‘causal link’ between their psychological condition and their inability to provide the sample. We are usually able to establish this causal link by obtaining supportive evidence from medical professionals and experts. Once the reasonable excuse defence is mounted, it is for the Prosecution to disprove it, which usually proves to be an insurmountable burden. Indeed, a driver cannot be convicted of failing to provide a specimen if they had a reasonable excuse.

An example of a reasonable excuse in driving cases could be where an individual is so overwhelmed with panic that they are unable to understand the officer’s instructions or comply with his requests.

Sadly, there seems to be a lack of awareness of this defence. Many who suffer from mental health problems simply plead guilty to the charge and are left with the stigma of having the conviction on their record.

We are seeking to raise awareness amongst the police, who should look out for these conditions and treat individuals accordingly, and also amongst sufferers of mental health problems to let them know that all is not lost, and they may have a defence available to them.

Article written by Expert Motoring Lawyer and specialist in Failure to Provide a Specimen cases, Alison Ashworth.

Why we do what we do:

At Ashworth Motoring Law we believe that no driver’s licence should be placed in jeopardy due to a lack of legal or technical knowledge. That’s why we’re always striving to deliver relevant, current content to keep you up to date with issues that could affect your freedom to drive.

We know the devastating impact that a disqualification from driving could have on a person’s life, career and family. It’s from that understanding that we fight to save the driving licences of motorists throughout the Country, to ensure that no person is disqualified where a valid defence or judicial discretion is available.

If you’ve been unlucky enough to be accused of failing to provide a specimen and need to keep your driving licence, you can call one of our team of Expert Motoring Lawyers at any time on 0330 33 22 770 or email admin@ashworthmotoringlaw.co.uk. Our specialist driving offence solicitors will listen to the details of your case and let you know instantly if your licence could be saved.

Jubilee weekend – Expect Road closures and delays

As we all know, the Queen is set to celebrate her platinum Jubilee with events running over the special extended bank holiday weekend from Thursday 02 – Sunday 05 June.  

Towns and Cities across the UK are hosting events to celebrate Queen Elizabeth becoming the first British monarch to reach the milestone after 70 years of service. The celebrations are set to include street parties and larger scale events.

Applications throughout the UK have been underway to notify local authorities of planned celebrations, with road fees being waived to encourage celebrations throughout the Jubilee weekend.  

Drivers should therefore prepare in advance for widespread road closures as people take to the streets to take part in a host of celebratory activities.

Given the anticipated popularity of the organised platinum jubilee events in London, motorists are being advised against driving in central London, with Transport for London warning “There will be road closures, and you will likely be delayed”.

Visitors to the city are being encouraged to use tube and rail services where possible.

TFL has stated:

“All our Tube and rail services will be running as usual over the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend. They’re good ways to get into central London, get to and from events, and travel around. Services may be busy.

The busiest times will be on Saturday night following the end of the BBC concert and other events, and Sunday daytime. Services and stations will be busy and a lot of people will be changing from Tube to National Rail.”

For details of road closures in your area you should contact your local authority.

Who are we?

The specialist Solicitors at Ashworth Motoring Law are experts in the laws related to driving in England and Wales. We represent drivers in Court and can save your driving licence if you’re accused of committing a driving offence. Contact our Motoring Law helpline for free independent legal advice on 0330 33 22 770 or email enquiries@ashworthmotoringlaw.co.uk

International Midwives Day

05th May 2022 marks international Midwives Day, and to celebrate, we’re offering 10% off initial fees for all registered midwives.

For many midwives, being able to drive is a key aspect of being able to do their job, some clocking up huge additional mileage to meet the demands of the job.

Mistakes can happen and driving through one too many speed cameras can have a drastic impact on your driving licence, with midwives who tot-up twelve penalty points facing a driving ban, and time off the road for 6 months.

Having helped many midwives to avoid a driving ban in circumstances where their career would have otherwise been in jeopardy, we are proud to support international midwives day by offering a 10% discount on initial legal fees for all registered midwives.

If you know a midwife who is facing the possible loss of their driving licence as a result of committing any driving related offence such as speeding, driving without insurance, or careless driving, invite them to contact Ashworth Motoring Law on 0330 33 22 770 for free initial legal advice and a 10% discount on their legal fees. Simply quote “midwife offer” when speaking to one of our specialist driving offence solicitors between 05 – 12 May 2022.

British Expats are no longer allowed to use their UK driving licence

uk driving license

Failed post-Brexit talks between the UK and Spain have left thousands of British Expats unable to drive in Spain. They had previously been able to drive using their UK driving licence and it was hoped that an agreement to swap it for a Spanish licence would be reached, without the need to retake a driving test.

The changes came into force on 01 May 2022 and mean that UK licence holders who failed to exchange their licence within 6 months of residing in Spain will no longer be legally allowed to drive. Whilst the Spanish Government is being urged to implement interim measures to assist those affected, anyone who has not exchanged their licence should take immediate steps to apply for a Spanish licence. This would involve the need to take both a theory and practical test.

The Gov.uk website has issued the following guidance:

If you have a valid UK driving licence

From 1 May 2022:

  • if you were living in Spain before 1 January 2021, your valid UK driving licence will no longer be valid for driving in Spain
  • if you moved to Spain after 1 January 2021, your valid UK licence will be recognised for 6 months from the date you obtained residence

The changes do not affect British holidaymakers who remain able to drive, provided they hold a valid driving licence that was issued in the UK.

Britons driving abroad on a UK driving licence should always check the oversees driving rules to ensure they do not break the specific laws in place for any particular Country.

Need advice about a motoring offence? Call our expert motoring lawyers on 0330 33 22 770 for free initial legal advice from a specialist driving offence solicitor. Lines are open round the clock. We look forward to assisting you.

Proposed changes to Dangerous Driving Law could Send Offenders to Prison for Life

Dangerous drivers could face harsher sentences as a new bill by former Prime Minister Theresa May makes it way through the Commons. The bill proposes to make changes to dangerous driving laws. The changes will increase courts freedom to issue tougher sentences for those who have committed serious motoring offences.

The updates could see some offenders issued life sentences to stop them walking clear after just years.

Drivers who kill others after speeding, racing, or using a phone, could receive life sentences under new legislation.

Serious dangerous driving accident

Those who cause death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs could also get a life sentence.

It comes after police forces have revealed that 555 drivers were killed or seriously injured in England and Wales through dangerous driving in the year to March.

Changes to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 will be known as “Violet Grace Law” in memory of a four-year-old child who was killed in a shocking dangerous driving incident.

The child was struck by a vehicle driving dangerously at over 80mph in a 30mph speed zone just three years ago.

However, the driver was jailed for just nine years and four months, meaning the offender could be released just next year.

The sentencing reforms will likely be introduced in Parliament early next year.

A new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving is also being proposed.

Currently, without that specific offence, drivers who cause injuries under such circumstances can only be convicted of careless driving – which has the maximum penalty of a fine.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said the proposed changes for tougher sentences would send a “strong message” to offenders.

He said: “While Britain might have some of the safest roads in Europe, it is a horrendous thought that each year more than 500 drivers in England and Wales are convicted of killing others as a result of their decision to drive dangerously”.

Permitting courts to issue much tougher sentences will send a strong message to motorists and will go some way towards reassuring families of victims killed in collisions that the law is on their side.

The new driving proposals were backed by two-thirds of road users in a massive RAC survey.

The poll revealed that a quarter of road users believe maximum sentences should be increased from the current 14 year maximum.

A massive 40 percent revealed that courts should be able to hand out a life sentence if they believe this is appropriate.

The Government pledged in 2017 to change the law to impose tougher penalties on the worst offenders.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said:

“This government has been clear that punishments must fit the crime, but too often families tell us this isn’t the case with killer drivers.

“So, today I am announcing that we will bring forward legislation early next year to introduce life sentences for dangerous drivers who kill on our roads, and ensure they feel the full force of the law.”

Any increase will apply to offences in England, Scotland, and Wales, but not Northern Ireland, which has separate road safety laws.

Call 0330 33 22 770 any time to speak to a specialist motoring law Solicitor if you require advice or assistance with any driving offence.

DVLA extends driving licence renewals

It has long been the case that your full photocard driving licence needs to be renewed every 10 years. However, due to recent uncertainty caused by Covid19, the DVLA has extended driving licence renewals until November 2021. If your photocard driving licence is due to expire before the end of 2020, you will now be granted an 11-month extension.

Covid19 extra lbs

Welcome news if you need a little extra time to lose the additional famous Covid19 lbs generated by the previous lockdown before taking to the photobooths for your next photocard renewal picture!

The extension is automatic, so no application is necessary. However the extension only applies to full licence holders. If you are a provisional licence holder, then unfortunately, the expiry date remains the same.

DVLA: Being able to drive is a “lifeline”

Noting that a seven month extension on photocard renewal had already been made earlier in the year, Julie Lenard, DVLA chief executive said :

“Being able to drive is a lifeline for millions of people and this further extension will ensure that in these continued uncertain times, drivers don’t need to worry about the admin or the associated forms with renewing their licences. “

Julie Lenard, DVLA chief executive

Ordinarily, a failure to renew your driving licence would result in a fine of up to £1000. It could even invalidate your car insurance if you are involved in an accident since you could be deemed to be driving without a valid driving licence. Failure to update the licence for over two years could even result in the need to retake your driving test.

DVLA driving licence

Licence renewals: How to renew your driving licence

You can renew your driving licence at the post office, via the post or online up to 2 months before it expires, and you must always ensure to update your current address; not only on your vehicle registration document (V5C) but also with the DVLA.

Need advice regarding a motoring offence? Call our free advice line on 0330 33 22 770 to speak to a Solicitor who specialises in Motoring Law today. Lines are open round the clock. We look forward to hearing from you.

The New Driver Act and what it means for New Drivers

Amidst the excitement of passing a driving test, it’s crucial that new drivers take the time to familiarise them with a vitally important law which applies specifically to them.

The New Driver Act and who it applies to

The new driver Act applies to ‘new drivers’ who are within the first two years of passing their UK driving test.  This includes foreign licence holders who have taken a UK driving test in order to obtain a full UK licence.

If a new driver accumulates 6 points or more on their driving licence, then their licence is automatically revoked by the DVLA. They would then need to retake both parts of their driving test, resulting in considerable expense, and time spent off the road.

How the 6 point threshold could be reached

Motoring offences carry different amounts of penalty points depending on their severity and nature. Some offences have a range of points that can be imposed so that the Magistrates can vary the punishment according to the severity.

The New Driver Rules do not distinguish whether the points are accrued in one go or are as a result of two minor offences. All that matters is the total number of points on the licence before the two year period is up.

For example, a person who commits two minor speeding offences would face licence revocation, as would someone who commits a single offence of driving without insurance.

Examples of single offences which could result in licence revocation under the new driver rules

  • Using a mobile phone whilst driving (fixed penalty of 6 points)
  • Failure to furnish information (fixed penalty of 6 points)
  • Driving without insurance (6 – 8 penalty points)
  • Permitting someone to use a vehicle without insurance (6 – 8 penalty points)
  • Some cases of careless driving (3 – 9 penalty points)
  • Some cases of failing to stop and report an accident (5 – 10 penalty points)
  • Excessive speeding (4 – 6 penalty points)
  • Being drunk in charge (10 penalty points)

Examples of multiple offences which could result in licence revocation under the new driver rules

  • Failure to stop at a red light (3 penalty points)
  • Low level speeding (3 penalty points)
  • Driving with a defective tyre (3 penalty points per tyre)
  • Driving with defective breaks (3 penalty points)
  • Leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position (3 penalty points)

How to avoid licence revocation by the DVLA

Neither the DVLA nor the police have any discretion over the revocation of a driving licence. Therefore a new driver who is facing the 6 point threshold will need to plead the case in Court.  That’s where we can help.

If you accept that you’re guilty then significant mitigation (information and circumstances to reduce the severity of the offence and its consequences) must be identified, prepared and presented to the Court. It is vitally important that a compelling case is created.

We would ask the Magistrates to impose a short term ban instead of the penalty points. This would prevent you from reaching the 6 point threshold in the first place. The short term ban needn’t be longer than 7- 14 days in many cases, and would see you back on the road considerably faster than having to retake the theory and practical elements of a driving test.

When preparing mitigation, we will ask you about the offence(s), your circumstances and what you use your licence for. The standard for avoiding licence revocation is set high, that’s why we leave no stone unturned when preparing your case.

We will advise on any necessary evidence to support the application and will not rest until your case is as strong as it can possibly be.

A specialist motoring law barrister will then present your case to the Court on your behalf. You would need to do nothing more than confirm your name and enter your plea of guilty or not guilty.

Our methods of avoiding licence revocation have proved extremely successful and have seen the licences of countless individuals saved. Individuals who may have otherwise needed to quit their job or their studies as travel without a car would have been impossible.

At Ashworth Motoring Law, we support new drivers and hope that they spend a long and enjoyable lifetime on the roads. We know that mistakes can happen, that’s why we are here to support, advise and represent new drivers who need to avoid licence revocation within the first two years of driving.

If you are a new driver and would like to discuss the ways that we could save your licence, call 0330 33 22 770 any time, day or night, to speak to an expert motoring lawyer who specialises in avoiding driving licence revocation.

Article by Expert motoring lawyer, Alison Ashworth – Managing Director of Ashworth Motoring Law.

What to expect during a roadside drug test

As described in our article on “are random drink or drug tests legal”, you can be asked to undergo a roadside drug test if either:

  • The officer reasonably suspects you’ve consumed drugs;
  • The officer reasonably suspects you’ve committed a motoring offence;
  • You’ve been involved in an accident;

If you’ve never done drugs, or haven’t for several months, then being asked to undergo a roadside drug test should cause you no concern. However, recent use of drugs, sometimes as long as two or three days ago could result in a positive test, ultimately ending in a disqualification from driving unless a defence can be identified.

What happens during a roadside drug test?

You’d usually be asked to circle the inside of your mouth with your tongue three times. Once you’ve worked up enough saliva, the officer will use the sample collector to wipe saliva from your tongue.  The sample pads usually change colour indicating that the sample has been successfully collected.

The police officer would then place the sample collector back into the test cassette and click it back into place. The officer then holds the device vertically with the blue section at the top and presses until the sealed section of the capsule breaks. The police officer should continue to hold the device vertically for another ten seconds.

After obtaining the sample, the officer should leave the test undisturbed on a horizontal surface and read the test result after 8 minutes.

If a red line appears, even if it is very faint, then the test is positive, and you’ll be taken to the police station for an evidential blood test to establish the quantity of drugs that are in your system.

What the police should NOT do during a roadside drug test procedure

  • Don’t use the test if the expiration date has been exceeded;
  • Don’t use the test if the packaging is damaged;
  • Don’t use the test if the package contains any moisture;
  • Don’t use the test if the control line already appears red on opening the packet;
  • Don’t store the test at extremes of temperature such as extreme heat or frost;
  • Don’t open the test until shortly before intending to swab the driver.

If you’ve been subjected to a roadside drug test and you think the police have failed to follow the above guidelines, please contact a member of our legal team as soon as possible on 0330 33 22 770. There are numerous defences to drug driving, whether the police have breached procedure at the roadside, police station or hospital. It may not always be obvious that the police have made a mistake, so it’s vital to gain expert opinion on whether you have a case to fight. It could make the difference between walking away from Court with your licence intact or facing a minimum twelve-month ban from driving and a criminal record.

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Article written by Alison Ashworth, Specialist drink and drug driving solicitor and Managing Director of Ashworth Motoring Law. Alison has a first-class honours degree in law and has appeared on various TV and Radio programs to discuss drink and drug driving. Widely considered the “go-to” expert in the field of motoring law, Alison has outstanding rates of securing not guilty verdicts in cases involving drink and drug driving. If you would like Alison to personally look into your case, please call our advice line on 0330 33 22 770 and ask to be transferred directly to her.