Driving Without a Digital Tachograph Driver Card

Driving without a digital tachograph driver card is considered a serious infringement of the tachograph rules, yet it is one of the most common infringements. On a yearly basis, millions of pounds in fines have been handed out, and in some cases this infringement resulted in the incarceration of a driver. Needless to say, this infringement should be taken very seriously by both drivers and truck operators. 

Although all tachograph related infringements should be taken very seriously, road side inspections consider driving without a tachograph card as the most reprehensible. The purpose of this this article is to help you stay on the safe side of the law.

The Main Rules Concerning Your Tachograph Driver Card 

First and foremost, using your personal tachograph driver card (or: driver card) is mandatory when you are operating a vehicle equipped with a tachograph. Whenever a vehicle is operated without a tachograph card, the mass storage of the tachograph will continue to record information and will create an event stating the absence of a driver card. All vehicle operations carried out with the absence of a tachograph card, will be considered as ‘uncleared duty’.  

Driving Without Digital Tachograph Driver Card

Here below we have listed some other important rules regarding the use of the driver card: 

  • Driving without tachograph driver card if you have never been issued with a driver card by the DVLA, is an offence 
  • You cannot share your driver card with other drivers.  
  • Your personal data (like address, contact info) at the DVLA should be up to date. 
  • Tachograph cards should be placed in the correct slot when you enter the vehicle. There is no need to remove the card during the shift, unless there is a driver or vehicle change. 
  • You are not entitled to hold more than one card at a time. 

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Are You Allowed to Drive Without Tachograph Driver’s Card? 

It is technically possible to operate vehicles fitted with a tachograph without a tachograph card. Although this is illegal, there are a few very rare exceptions. The main reason for driving without a tachograph card is allowed when the card is irretrievable (lost, damaged, malfunctioning or stolen). A misplaced or ‘forgotten’ card is not considered a valid reason, neither is an expired card. One must always ensure a valid and up to date tachograph card.

Expired Tachograph Driver’s Card 

Driving with an expired driver card is never allowed. The DVLA usually informs you about the upcoming expiration of your tachograph card. You should always make sure that you request a new card in time, it can take up to several weeks to receive a new card, the same goes for the application of a new card. You should ensure that you apply for a renewal at least 15 working days before expiration. You should keep your expired driver’s card for 28 days after expiration, as you may need to show it at a roadside checkpoint. The data must be downloaded from expired cards before they are disposed of. 

Lost, Stolen, Damaged or Malfunctioning Tachograph Driver’s Card 

Driving without a driver card in case of a lost, stolen, damaged or malfunctioning tachograph card is only allowed for up to 15 calendar days. The DVLA should replace a lost, stolen, damaged or malfunctioning card within 5 working days after receiving a valid application. 

From the moment a card is lost, stolen, damaged or malfunctioning there are a few steps to undertake in order to protect yourself if you are stopped by the police or DVSA enforcement officers: 

  • The DVLA must be informed immediately 
  • Apply for a new card within seven working days 
  • Inform your employer/superior as soon as possible 
  • Keep a record of printouts from the very beginning and the end of your shift, stating your name, license plate and signature on the rear of each printout 
  • Keep these records up for 28 days for inspection. After 28 days, you can hand it over to your employer/superior 
  • In case of a damaged or malfunctioning card you should send it back to the DVLA 

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Some Useful Tips 

The better prepared you are, the more solid your case is. Here are some useful tips for you regarding your tachograph driver’s card: 

  • Make sure you record the country where you start your shift and the country where you have ended your shift. If you insert your card this will be asked, but without a tachograph driver’s card, you need to record it manually on your printouts. 
  • Make sure you use the correct state/mode of your tachograph. 
  • Make sure you have enough printing paper. You will need it when you don’t have a card and must keep an analog record of your activities. 
  • Make sure you can show a record of a total of 28 days in the case of a roadside inspection.
  • Read the section how long to keep digital tachograph records

Avoid fines with an automatic tacho download
The fines are quite high and abuse is strictly monitored. It is therefore vital to pay attention to the digital tachograph and the driver card. Since RitAssist takes care of reading out both the mass memory and the driver card, you no longer have to worry about this. The two-year retention obligation is also handled entirely by FleetGO. Read more about Tacho Download here.

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