Fleet News

EU rules will make licence fraud likely

PAN-EUROPEAN fleet managers and road transport companies will have to closely monitor disqualification histories of their drivers, because of their newly-confirmed legal right to secure licences in other European Union (EU) countries after being banned in their home state.

This has been made clear in a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which said that existing EU laws 'may not be used by a member state as a basis for refusing indefinitely to recognise, in relation to a person who has been the object in its territory of a measure withdrawing or cancelling a previous licence issued by that state, the validity of any licence that may subsequently be issued to him by another member state.'

The ruling arose from a case involving a driver, called Felix Kapper, challenging a fine imposed by a German court punishing him for driving in Germany on a Dutch licence, secured after his old German licence had been withheld.

Jay Parmar, head of legal services at the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association said: 'This doesn't seem fair or right - it compromises road safety.'

The practice of seeking a licence in another EU member country to get round a disqualification at home 'puts all other law-abiding citizens at risk,' he said, adding that it would be 'right' for the loophole to be closed.

This may well happen in the future. Proposed reforms to the EU's directive on the recognition and renewal of licences would make a ban in one member state binding throughout the EU. The proposal is awaiting a vote at the European Parliament and it will be some months, possibly more than a year, before it is agreed.

The UK's Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency said that under the Crime Act, disqualifications in other EU countries would be binding in the UK. That said, British laws can always be overruled by ECJ rulings.

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