Roadside prohibitions

A prohibition can prevent you from driving until you get a problem with your vehicle fixed.

You could be given a prohibition by a police officer or an officer from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) if there is a fault with your driving or your vehicle.

You could get either an immediate prohibition or a delayed prohibition, depending on:

  • the type of offence
  • how serious the faults are
  • where your vehicle operator is based

An immediate prohibition means you’re not allowed to drive your vehicle until the problems have been fixed. A delayed prohibition means you have up to 10 days to fix an issue.

A vehicle with a trailer is treated as 2 separate units, so you could get more than one prohibition issued at the same time.

Roadworthiness prohibitions

A roadworthiness prohibition is given for mechanical problems or for the condition of a vehicle’s bodywork or equipment.

If the operator of your vehicle is based outside of the UK, you’ll be given an immediate prohibition. If the operator is based in the UK, the prohibition type will depend on how severe the defect is.

Minor vehicle defects

If the defects are minor, you could get a delayed prohibition.

This means you’ll be able to drive your vehicle away and the operator will have up to 10 days to get it fixed. It will then need to be reinspected and the prohibition removed before it can be driven again.

Severe vehicle defects

You could get an ‘S’ marked prohibition if there’s a severe defect - this is usually because there’s a problem with the vehicle’s maintenance procedures.

An ‘S’ marked prohibition can be delayed if the police officer or DVSA officer decides that there’s no immediate risk to driving.

If you get an immediate ‘S’ marked prohibition, it’s likely the vehicle will be immobilised and you will not be able to drive it until the problem is fixed. You could also be prosecuted.

DVSA will follow up with an assessment of the operator’s maintenance procedures.

You would not get an ‘S’ marked prohibition for defects you cannot have known about before your journey, for example:

  • a problem that could have occurred during the journey
  • a problem you could not have been expected to have noticed (for example an underside defect)

Variation of roadworthiness

You could get this if an immediate problem with the vehicle has been temporarily or permanently fixed at the roadside but others remain.

It means you can return to your operating centre or garage to permanently repair the initial problem and other faults.

Overloading prohibitions

If the vehicle is overloaded then you’ll be issued with an immediate prohibition notice and your vehicle may be immobilised. Officers can also direct the vehicle to somewhere nearby, where the load can be redistributed or removed.

A copy of the notice is sent to the owner or operator of the vehicle.

Drivers’ hours prohibitions

You can get a drivers’ hours prohibition if you have not followed the rules for drivers’ hours and the rules for tachographs.

You’ll usually get a fine - but you could also be prosecuted or have your vehicle immobilised.

Problems transporting hazardous goods

You can get a hazchem prohibition if:

  • you do not have the correct paperwork
  • tankers are not labelled correctly
  • the goods are not loaded or stored safely
  • there’s a leakage
  • you’re not trained to transport hazardous goods

Fixing the problem is usually enough to get the prohibition lifted. The officer may ask you to do this before letting you drive away.

If you get a delayed prohibition

How long you get to fix a delayed prohibition depends on what is wrong with your vehicle.

Number of days you have to get it fixed Description
Up to 3 days More than 1 defect in a safety critical area
4 to 7 days 1 defect in a safety critical area, or 5 more defects in non-critical areas
Up to 10 days Less than 5 defects in non-critical areas

Safety critical areas are where a defect could affect the safety of driving the vehicle, for example a defect in the brakes, lights or steering.

Removing a prohibition

If a DVSA officer classes a defect as advisory, you will not get a prohibition.

If you get a prohibition, you’ll need to take the vehicle to an authorised testing facility (ATF) for HGVs, buses and trailers. You’ll have to pay to:

  • fix the defect
  • have the vehicle inspected and get the prohibition removed

The cost depends on:

  • the type of vehicle it is
  • how many axles it has
  • what type of centre it’s tested at
  • whether the test carried out was full or partial

The type of inspection you need will be on the prohibition notice.

If the examiner decides your vehicle needs a full inspection

A full inspection is the same as an MOT. When it passes, you’ll get:

  • a new MOT certificate, which lasts for a year
  • a prohibition removal notice

The new MOT certificate will be valid for either:

  • 12 months from the date of issue
  • 13 months from the date of issue if the inspection was within one month of the existing MOT expiring

If the examiner decides your vehicle needs a partial inspection

A partial inspection will look at issues that caused the prohibition, as well as some safety features, for example, the brakes and steering.

When it passes, you’ll get a prohibition removal notice. Your MOT certificate and the date it  runs out will stay the same.

If you disagree with the prohibition

You can complain to either the local police force or DVSA, depending on who gave you the prohibition.

If you’re unhappy with the outcome of your complaint to DVSA, contact DVSA within 14 days of getting the prohibition.

Telephone: 0300 123 9000
Monday to Friday, 7:30am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

DVSA may not need to reinspect the vehicle. If they do, they’ll try to arrange the reinspection somewhere convenient for you.

When they deal with your complaint, they’ll tell you if you need to send evidence.

Do not get your vehicle repaired or adjusted while you’re making your complaint.

DVSA will respond to your complaint within 10 working days.