It is now some 10 years since the introduction of the driver CPC regulations. There is an exemption from the requirement to undertake the training and carry the qualification card for a person driving a vehicle carrying materials and equipment to be used by that person in the course of his work, provided that driving the vehicle is not his principal activity. A recent case has looked at whether or not a mobile phone comes within this definition.
A relevant vehicle for the purposes of the regulations, carrying passengers for hire and reward, was stopped by DVSA. The driver of the vehicle was also a director of the company which held the operator’s licence. He did not hold a driver CPC. The director’s argument was that whilst he was driving the relevant vehicle, he had with him his mobile phone. He believed that he was exempt from the requirement to have a Driver Certificate of Professional Qualification because he fell within the exemption of carrying equipment to be used within the course of his work and that driving was not his principal activity. The mobile phone was “equipment” for the purposes of managing his business as through the mobile phone he had access to emails and his electronic diary. Both the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts rejected this argument and ruled that the exemption did not apply.
The case then came before the Deputy Traffic Commissioner as an employee of the company had received a conviction. At the beginning of the hearing the Deputy Traffic Commissioner stated that he could not go behind the conviction but could take into account the background circumstances. He was satisfied that the director was not exempt from holding a driver CPC. He ruled that a mobile phone, carried by a driver of a relevant vehicle is neither material or equipment and neither was it carried for the purposes necessary to be used by the director in the course of their work at that point in time. To rule otherwise would create a wholly perverse outcome.
The case was appealed to the Upper Tribunal, who ruled that the director could not avail himself of the exemption as the vehicle was carrying passengers for hire and reward, which was the purpose of the director’s business. Furthermore, the exemption relates to the vehicle, not the driver. The exemption does not include a relevant vehicle, carrying passengers for hire and reward, being driven by an occasional driver, carrying with him his mobile phone.
Although the driver CPC has been in place for some time, this is one of the first cases to deal with interpretation of the exemptions. If you would like any specific advice on the requirements to hold a driver CPC, please contact me on 01756 790631.