Can Truck drivers avoid prosecution by refusing to sign their work diaries?
If you are involved in the trucking industry you know that driver fatigue laws and the work diary requirements are complex issues. It is easy to make mistakes and these mistakes can be very costly. A number of truck drivers believe they found a loophole to protect them from prosecution for driver fatigue and work diary offences.
Let’s discuss the merits of this “refusing to sign loophole”.
The “true and correct” declaration
At the bottom of the truck driver’s work diary page there is a declaration that states that the entries are true and correct. The belief is that if you refuse to sign this declaration, the authorities cannot use the information recorded in the work diary against you. Is this belief correct?
Refusing to sign is unlikely to avoid prosecution
It is a mistaken belief that refusal to sign will avoid prosecution. In fact, drivers who refuse to sign their work diaries run the risk of further fines for additional offences.
Refusal to sign is an offence
Signing the declaration is a legal requirement under the Heavy Vehicle National Law. Failing to sign is an offence. Drivers can be required to appear in Court and face a heavy fine if they don’t comply with this law. Fines can be in excess of $6000.
Take note the Heavy Vehicle National Law applies to QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC, SA and TAS.
The work diary can be used as evidence even if the declaration is unsigned.
In many cases the prosecution is for making false entries in the work diary or for failing to comply with the work/rest hours. There is nothing in the law that prevents the prosecution from using the work diary as evidence if the declaration is not signed. Refusal to sign is thus unlikely to avoid prosecution for these offences.
Get legal advice
Relying on this “loophole” is clearly not a good option for truck drivers. In most cases if you refuse to sign your work diary, you are digging a deeper hole for yourself. You may be prosecuted for the original false entries, work/rest offence AND receive an additional fine for refusing/failing to sign the work diary.
If you are facing charges under the Driver Fatigue or work diary laws, consult with a lawyer who has experience in this field. Don’t simply rely on mistaken beliefs and loopholes. It could be a very costly mistake, both financially and for your career as a driver.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.