Knowledge Hub | Articles

17 July 2019

Have a break, have a…. safe drive

Roy Orbinson once sang ‘I drove all night’. But technically this wouldn’t be possible in England and Wales where there are strict drivers’ hours rules - designed to prevent people from driving without regular breaks.

Tachographs can be installed in vehicles to record information about driving speed, distance travelled and the time spent in control of a vehicle – key evidence that shows whether you’re adhering to the drivers’ hours rules or not. The devices are mandatory for drivers of vehicles carrying 12 or more people, heavy goods vehicles and public service vehicles.

In June 2019, the mandatory introduction of ‘smart tachographs’ in all new vehicles came into effect.  The most important new feature in the new devices is the introduction of satellite positioning data. New tachographs will take a GPS reading at the beginning and end of duty and every three hours of accumulated driving. They are intended to promote greater compliance with the drivers’ hours rules by making it tougher to interfere with the devices.

Drivers’ hours rules – what’s the law?

Driving is defined as being at the controls of a vehicle whether it is moving or stationary, with the engine running.

Whilst driving a heavy goods vehicle in any working day – which is a 24-hour period beginning with the start of the duty time - the maximum amount of driving permitted is ten hours.

For passenger carrying vehicles you must take at least a 30-minute break after 5.5 hours of driving. Alternatively, within any period of 8.5 hours, the driver must have breaks throughout which add up to 45 minutes in total, meaning the driver should not drive for more than 7 hours and 45 minutes.

A continuous rest of 10 hours must be taken be tween two consecutive driving days which can be reduced to 8.5 hours up to three times a week. In any two consecutive weeks, the driver must have at least one 24-hour period off duty.

Recording driving hours

For heavy goods drivers, a written record must be kept of hours worked. Alternatively, a tachograph can be used to record the driver’s activity.

For drivers of passenger carrying vehicles, there is no record keeping requirement under domestic rules. However, drivers should be aware where driving is undertaken, that is subject to EU rules, they are required to produce tachograph records.

What is a tachograph offence?

There was a total of 892 tachograph offences in 2015/16 in England and Wales. These were down to:

• Failing to install or use a tachograph
• Refusing to hand over records when requested
• Failing to observe driving time
• Altering or forging the seal on the tachograph
• Falsifying entry or altering driving records with intent to deceive


The sanctions for a tachograph offence range from a verbal warning for minor infringements, to fines up to £5000. Drivers could also be suspended from driving duties for a specified or unspecified period, which could have huge impact on livelihoods. The most serious offences may lead to a custodial sentence, which could be lifechanging for you and your family.

If you would like further information or an independent assessment of your situation and advice on how to move forward, please contact our criminal team on 01753 889995 or email

*This information is for guidance only and you should make your own checks into driving hours.

Jonothan Moss

Jonothan Moss

Tel: 01753 278665 | 07891 990858

James Constable

James Constable

Tel: 01753 279039 | 07341 566327

Matthew Brandis

Matthew Brandis

Tel: 01753 279039 | 07894 607843

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