This Monday, the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Road Safety sent a letter to the competent traffic police forces (Guardia Civil, Mossos de Esquadra, Ertzaintza and Navarre Police) to intensify checks on lorries and to issue certificates of falsification of official documents in the event that the tachograph has been tampered with.
The public prosecutor in charge of coordinating road safety, Bartolomé Vargas, explained this new measure to the media at a press conference. The measure is based on a Supreme Court ruling issued on 15 January 2020. This ruling considers that the document extracted from the tachograph must be considered for legal and criminal purposes as an official document, since the tachograph and its measurements have no other purpose than the control of road transport by the Administration. Altering the tachograph is therefore now punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment.
Furthermore, according to the public prosecutor, the investigation will not only be limited to the driver, but also to the owner, manager or employee of the company that owns the vehicle or the workshop that carries out the tampering. In this way, the investigation could focus on finding out if the employers are aware of these practices and if they allow them with the aim of having more driving hours.
On the other hand, Vargas has assured that they will contact the Directorate General of Traffic, the Directorate General of Road Transport, the transport departments, the employers’ associations and the trade unions to inform them of the measure and to draw up an action protocol.
From CETM we consider that this measure will serve to avoid a fraud that is seriously detrimental to transport companies and the sector in general, which deteriorates the profession and poses a risk to road safety.
Pursuing this type of infringement and toughening the penalties may be a solution to frighten offenders, as it means prison sentences are more likely to prevent them from committing this crime. It will also help transport companies to carry out thorough checks on tachographs and ensure that drivers comply with driving and rest times.
Finally, the CETM demands that there be the maximum legal guarantee in the whole process of penalties so that only the person who is really responsible for manipulating the tachograph will suffer the consequences, since we are talking about penalties of between six months and three years in prison and which may lead to the disqualification of the transport manager and the disappearance of the company.