Weekly driver’s rest? Only at a hotel, the Court of Justice of the European Union rules

8. 3. 2018

Among others, the AETR regulation defines the rules how should be determined the permitted driving time and rest for the drivers of road transport vehicles of the maximum weight exceeding 3.5 tons or vehicles designed for transport of more than 9 persons.

Should any of the rules be breached on the territory of the Czech Republic, both, the transporting company and the driver may be imposed a fine of up to CZK 350,000 and CZK 10,000 respectively and meeting them is checked by the Police of the Czech Republic rather thoroughly.

One of the most important rules regards the so-called “regular weekly rest”. The drivers are obligated to take an uninterrupted rest of at least 45 hours after every 6 days of driving.

Though the drivers usually spend this time in their lorries, some EU member states, such as Germany and Belgium, have recently started to sanction this practice. And it was a case of a penalized Belgian transportation company which has been heard by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which unequivocally ruled that the weekly rest needs to be spent in a suitable accommodation facility.

Although the transportation companies criticize the ruling on the grounds of risks connected with parking the vehicles with the cargo in car parks, insufficient parking and accommodation capacities and, naturally, the covering the accommodation costs, there are not many ways of reversing the ruling.

The ruling is binding for all EU member states with a certain exemption of transportation companies seated in non-EU countries as these are managed by the AETR international agreement and not by the AETR regulation. The member states, therefore, are not obligated to take the rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union into consideration; it is, however, highly likely that they will accept the interpretation here, too.  

In practice, then, apart from the usual tachograph inspections, the authorities will also check the accommodation bills, which should, hence, be kept by the drivers.

Furthermore, the ruling will not only affect the highway code but also the tax and labor-law areas. It can only be recommended that the transportation companies should not neglect these aspects.   

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