Road checks related to rest time in France
Does your, as an employer of the transport company, driver have ever been stopped and checked in France for regular weekly rest time? And you have paid at least 750 euros as a “consignation “in France?
By judgment of May 19, 2022, the French Police Court of Orléans has cancelled a penal procedure against a Polish company because of a faulty translation during roadside checks.
This very important judgment of May 19, which annulled the entire criminal proceedings due to a defective translation of the proceedings, is a leap forward in the defense of carriers and their right to ensure translation in case of a roadside check in France, which unfortunately happens quite often.
In this case, the Polish company was found guilty by a penal decision (called in French “Ordonnance pénale”) dated 2018, the judge delegated to the Court of Orleans found guilty of the facts of taking the regular weekly rest time on board the vehicle, committed in 2017 and also declared the Polish company to pay a fine of 750 euros for this offense.
The opposition to this decision was accompanied by the assistance of an Attorney in November 2021.
It happens very often, during roadside checks in France, that drivers are controlled and questioned by the French authorities in French language. As this is a foreign language for drivers, who do not speak the language of the procedure, causing enormous stress during the roadside check, without the assistance of the company’s representative. It also happens that the driver even never admits to having rested in the cabin, and the French authorities immediately declare that this is the case.
And it is precisely on the basis of these elements that the French Police Court of Orléans, annulled the sanction.
This important case raises the question of faulty translation during roadside checks. It shows how important it is to clarify the situation with the foreign authority and to pay attention to the documents that the driver has to provide during roadside checks.
Therefore, the authority cannot ask the driver for the documents and invoices concerning the weekly rest time, ONLY, if their drivers are caught in the truck on a parking lot.
Recommendations of the European Commission
The European Commission has also referred to the prohibition of regular weekly rest periods in the cabin.
In the Questions & Answers document (question 6), the European Commission details what evidence a driver must present to an inspector to prove that he/she has not spent the regular weekly rest period in the lorry but in suitable accommodation.
Article 34(3) of Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 clarifies that Member States do not require drivers to submit forms proving their activities outside the vehicle. This also covers the situation of taking a regular weekly rest outside the vehicle. Thus, enforcement officers cannot require drivers to produce documents proving that their regular weekly rest period prior to the roadside check was not taken in the vehicle.
In short, drivers or employers cannot be fined for non-compliance with these rules ONLY if their drivers are caught taking a regular weekly rest period in the truck at the time of the check1.
In addition, authorities cannot require drivers to provide documentation that their normal weekly rest period prior to the roadside check was spent outside the truck.