Can a company or an individual be prosecuted for failing to undertake a download of the driver’s card or undertake downloads from the company card if that offence comes to light at a road side check in another EU member state? These were questions which were recently clarified by a decision of the European Court of Justice.
The case involved an Austrian company whose vehicle was stopped in Germany. Two infringements were found; that the driver’s card had not been downloaded within 28days and that the company card had not been inserted into the vehicle’s tachograph. The representative of the transport company argued as the company was based in Austria that the obligation to download data from the driver’s card and lock in company data only existed in Austria, where the company’s premises were located. As the infringements were detected in Germany, that the Germany courts had no power to impose any penalties for the infringements.
The European Court of Justice, in its ruling, looked at the text of Regulation 561/2006. The objective of the Regulation is to improve road safety. In view of that, in order for there to be effective enforcement, it is necessary not only that member states are able to check that the provisions of the Regulation are complied with, but also to be able to impose effective penalties. The court ruled that this means that the Regulation must be interpreted so as to authorise the competent authorities of a Member State, to impose a penalty on an undertaking for an infringement detected in its territory even if the infringement was committed in the territory of another Member State. So, the German authorities could prosecute the company for failing to undertake downloads or lock in the company data, even though the failure to do these took place in Austria. The case will have implications for businesses doing international work. Arrangements must be made to ensure that there is compliance with Regulation 561/2006, regardless of whether or not the vehicle returns to base.