If a motor vehicle has been involved in an offence such as speeding, traffic light offence or in circumstances involving an accident, then under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, there is a legal obligation on the owner or registered keeper of the vehicle to give information as to the identity of the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence, where they have been required to do so by the Police.
Failure to comply with this could render the individual liable to prosecution for failure to identify driver/failure to furnish information. This offence attracts 6 points and a fine of up to £1000.
All of our motoring lawyers at Caines Law have an excellent reputation for successfully defending section 172 cases.
If you are the registered owner or keeper of the vehicle alleged to have committed a motoring offence but you were not stopped by the police at the time of the offence, then you should receive the notice of intended prosecution (NIP) and section 172 notice within 14 days of the alleged offence.
If you receive a notice of intended prosecution after this 14 day period the prosecution of the offence will usually be void however; if the vehicle in question was involved in an accident the 14 day limit for a notice of intended prosecution does not apply.
If the notice of intended prosecution and section 172 Notice is received within the 14 day period, the registered keeper then has a period of 28 days within which to confirm the driver’s details. If the driver’s details are not provided within the 28 day limit, the registered keeper would face receiving 6 penalty points and a fine of up to £1000.
Unknown identity of the driver
There will be instances where the registered keeper or owner of a vehicle will not be able to identify the individual who was driving the vehicle at the date and time in question. This can be due to a number of possible reasons. It could be as a result of domestic arrangements within households where a number of drivers have access to more than one vehicle at any one time making it extremely difficult to ascertain the identity of the driver on a particular occasion. Alternatively, it may be that there has been a long time lapse from the date of the offence and the notice of intended prosecution arriving.
The law states that ‘reasonable diligence’ can be argued if the registered owner or keeper of the vehicle can show that they did not know who the driver was despite reasonable steps being made to determine who was driving.
Reasonable steps can include, making thorough enquiries with all possible drivers; consideration of photographic evidence or video footage; checking bank statements, receipts etc. with a view to determine whereabouts at the date and time in question. This is not an exhaustive list but are typical examples of the kind of things the Court will expect you to have looked into when being asked to identify the driver.
Provided you can show you have made these reasonable enquiries to ascertain the driver of the vehicle, you can be found not guilty of the offence at trial if the court is satisfied in respect of your efforts.
If you face a situation similar to the above and are being asked to identify the driver of the vehicle but you are unsure, then it is easy to think that by simply ‘drawing a name out of a hat’ the whole matter will be resolved. Unfortunately, this is not something that we would advise as you are potentially providing false information in a legal document. You should only identify the driver if you are sure that person being identified was in fact driving.
It is very important that you seek legal advice in circumstances where you are unsure of the driver’s identity.
What if I did not receive the notice of intended prosecution?
There are instances where the notice of intended prosecution and section 172 notice have not been received. In such circumstances, you may have a complete defence.
The law states that a person is guilty of the offence of failure to identify the driver if he fails to identify the driver of the vehicle who is alleged to have been guilty of an offence. However, you can only be guilty of this offence if you have received the notice of intended prosecution and section 172 notice in the first place. The fact that you have not received it may be due to the Royal Mail, postal address difficulties, the area you live in, problems in the sending of the notice, others intercepting your post etc.
We have represented hundreds of clients in failure to identify the driver cases over the years.
We therefore have considerable experience in acting for clients who have never received the notice of intended prosecution. If the individual is unaware of an alleged offence having occurred, it is understandable that they will be oblivious to the need to provide the driver’s details. In such circumstances it is probable that the first notification you receive in respect of the allegation is the Court summons asking you to attend Court to answer the allegation of failure to provide the driver’s details.
If you find yourself in a situation similar to this, call us on 0800 6441544 for a free consultation.
What if I sent back the notice of intended prosecution within 28 days?
There may be instances where the section 172 notice has been completed by the registered keeper, it has been sent back and it is alleged that the Police or the Central Ticket office have not received the response. If the notice has been completed and sent back within the 28 day period, then in these situations you may have a defence.
If you find yourself in a situation similar to this, contact us and we will provide you with a free initial advice and assessment of your case.
We have considerable experience in the following areas:
A) Reasonable diligence cases
B) 14 day rule for notice to have been received
C) Central ticket office administrative or legal errors
D) Crown Prosecution Service procedures
E) Technical defences
Caines Law are happy to speak to you for free initial advice to discuss your circumstances.
The importance of early representation and advice
It is often the case that our clients instruct us as soon as they receive the notice of intended prosecution so that we are able to guide them through the whole process. Unfortunately, what you do, or fail to do when the notice first arrives can be crucial to your case. Mistakes are often made at an early stage of correspondence and this can cause difficulties if you are summoned to attend Court. We carefully draft responses to the Police or the Local Central Ticket Office/Speed enforcement Authority at an early stage with our clients’ instructions so that their cases are not compromised.
Our aim is to help and support our clients throughout the whole process from the very first communication they receive in respect of the offence. Contact us now for a free consultation on 0800 6441544. Alternatively, please complete the Contact us form and one of our specialist solicitors will make contact with you to discuss.
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Case Study- 1
Our client received a Notice of Intended Prosecution in respect of a speeding offence. Whilst she was the registered keeper of the vehicle concerned, she shared the vehicle almost on an equal basis with her husband.
She was asked to identify the driver of the vehicle on the date of the speeding incident. She was unable to say with certainty whether she was driving the vehicle on the date in question. She had made enquiries with her husband as well to establish if he could recall driving on the date concerned. However, he too could not be certain. She therefore wrote back to the enforcement team to explain to them her predicament and advised that she did not know who was driving.
She subsequently received a court summons in respect of the prosecution of speeding and failing to identify the driver (which is a more onerous offence). We advised her to plead not guilty and prepared her case on the basis of the defence of reasonable diligence. This is where she has implored reasonable diligence to establish the identity of the driver but in spite of this remains none the wiser.
We made the Court aware of the lengths she had gone in identifying the driver; having lengthy discussions with her husband in respect of his whereabouts, they each checked receipts to see if they could recall their movements, they also checked their work diaries to see if this could assist them in anyway.
The difficulty they had was both used each other’s vehicle in equal measure. The last parked vehicle on the drive was the first car that was used by any one of them. When it came to trial, they gave evidence in respect of this and with our representation, our client was found not guilty in respect of both offences.
Case Study – 2
Our client was a company who owned a fleet of vehicles that employees had access to. They retain a register which logs the usage of each vehicle. As such, they had a record of who was driving which vehicle on what date and time.
One of their employees committed a speeding offence whilst using the company vehicle. However, our client did not receive the Notice of Intended Prosecution in respect of this offence. As such, they were not able to identify the driver of the vehicle who had commissioned the offence in spite of them having all the information to hand.
As they did not receive the NIP, they did not identify the driver and subsequently received a court summons for failing to identify the driver. We advised our client to plead Not guilty to the offence on the basis that they did not fail to identify but rather had been denied the opportunity to identify the driver. We carried out thorough preparation of the case, secured evidence of the register logs that had in place that provided all the details necessary for the purposes of identifying a driver where an offence was committed. We also secured from them proof of previous incidents where our client had received NIP’s and had duly completed and sent them with the requested information. Armed with all this evidence, we wrote to the crown prosecution service to explain the situation to them and put pressure on them to discontinue proceedings. The case was subsequently withdrawn and there was no trial.Contact us