Being green – but still need a tachograph

In a recent case looking at the exception from the requirement to comply with the EU drivers’ hours rules and use a tachograph, the European Court has given a preliminary ruling that it is not willing to extend the exemption.

It has long been established that there is an exception for vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 7.5 tonnes which are used for carrying materials, equipment or machinery for the driver’s use in the course of his work. The exception can only be used if the vehicle stays within a 50km radius of its base and that driving the vehicle is not the driver’s main activity.

A German wine merchant tried to claim that he did not need to use a tachograph in a vehicle which was used for a home delivery service. The merchant would deliver cases of wine to customers and collect the empty wine bottles to be returned to a supplier. Driving the vehicle was supplementary to his main activity of serving customers in his wine shop.

The court was asked to decide whether the term “materials” could also include packaging materials, such as empty drinks bottles. The court held that “materials” are things that are subject to a transformation process, are intended to be used to create, modify and transport something else and are not something that is transported simply for their own delivery, sale or disposal. It mattered not that there was an obligation to encourage the use of re-usable bottles to protect the environment.

The above exemption from complying with the EU drivers’ hours rules and need to use a tachograph, is just one of many that are potentially available to businesses. However, it is a complicated area of law and if you feel that you may fall within an exemption, I can give you specifically tailored advice. Please contact me on 01756 790631.

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