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When is a professional driver at risk of having their driver’s license suspended?

>A driver’s license suspension is one of the worst scenarios that can happen to a professional driver. It’s hard to imagine continuing your professional career without driving. Especially since driving without a license is a serious crime, even punishable by imprisonment. What is the difference between a driver’s license suspension and revocation? What is the penalty for driving without a license? You will find the answers to these questions in the article below.

Driver’s license suspension  –  when are you at risk?

In Polish law, we have two offenses which, if committed, entail the driver’s license being suspended for a period of 3 months. These are:

  • exceeding the speed limit by more than 50 km/h in built-up areas
  • transporting a minimum of 3 more people in the car than the number specified in the vehicle registration certificate

If the driver drives a motor vehicle despite the imposed driver’s license suspension, the suspension period is extended to 6 months. Further violations in this respect may lead to the starost withdrawing the right to drive a vehicle. In this case, you have to retake the exam.

It is also possible to have your driver’s license suspended for a longer period if you have committed a serious traffic offense or crime, such as causing a fatal accident. The aforementioned restrictions apply to all drivers. However, there are regulations aimed strictly at professional drivers.

Also read: What is a community license and what transport does it entitle to?

Suspension of a driver’s license by a police officer

Article 135 of the Road Traffic Law gives the police officer the right to suspend a driver’s license if:

  • there is reasonable suspicion that the driver of the vehicle is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • the driver’s license has expired
  • the driver of the vehicle has exceeded the statutory number of penalty points
  • there are three traffic offenses related to road safety or one crime against road safety during the probationary period

How many penalty points can you have?

  • up to 20 penalty points within 1 year from the date of first issue of the driver’s licence
  • up to 24 penalty points if the driver has had a driver’s license for more than 1 year

What can a professional driver lose his driving license for?

A number of changes introduced by the mobility package include additional penalties for tampering with the tachograph. From 1 January 2022, it is possible to suspend a driver’s license for 3 months if a professional driver during the daily driving time:

  • did not record vehicle speed, driver activity or distance travelled
  • used someone else’s driver card, used at least two of their own driver cards, used someone else’s record sheet
  • used an unauthorized device interfering with the operation of the tachograph

Can an employer fire a driver whose license was suspended?

The employer has two options if a professional driver’s license has been suspended. The employer may:

  • move the employee to another job position
  • terminate the contract without notice on disciplinary grounds

The first solution is mainly used for sales representatives who are temporarily assigned to office tasks. As for employees of transport companies and carriers, the contract is usually terminated, in line with Article 52 of the Labour Code. Moreover, work regulations usually impose an obligation on employees of transport companies to inform the employer about any changes regarding the right to drive a motor vehicle.

Terminating the contract with an employee whose driver’s license has been revoked is subject to certain requirements. The employer is required to provide the employee with a statement on the termination of the employment contract without notice due to the fault of the employee within one month from the date the employer becomes aware of the circumstances justifying the termination of the contract. This period cannot be suspended or interrupted, even if the employer faces extraordinary circumstances.

Also check: Cabotage transport – what is it and who can carry it out

The difference between having your driver’s license suspended and revoked

The main difference between suspending and revoking a driver’s license comes down to the extent of the limitation of the rights held. The suspension of the driver’s license is temporary and does not involve the need to pass the relevant exam again. On the other hand, the revocation of a driving license is absolute. Rights are not withheld in this case, but simply lost.

Another difference concerns the way restrictions are imposed. Drivers licenses are suspended by police officers or road transport inspectors during roadside checks. While in order to have a driver’s license revoked, a court judgment ordering a driving prohibition is required.

What is the penalty for driving without a license?

  • minimum fine of PLN 1,500
  • maximum fine of PLN 30,000
  • court ordered prohibition on driving any motor vehicle for a period of 6 months to 15 years depending on the severity of the violation
  • from 3 months to 5 years imprisonment for drivers who break a court ordered prohibition  on driving

It is possible to suspend a professional driver’s license if they tamper with the tachograph or use a false or someone else’s driver card. They are also subject to the road rules that apply to all drivers.