The law: Road Traffic Act 1988 s.172

You are required to identity the driver of a vehicle to the police if an offence is alleged to have occurred.Where the driver of a vehicle is alleged to be guilty of an offence: The person keeping the vehicle shall give such information as to the identity of the driver as he may be required to give by a chief officer of police. Any other person shall if required as stated above give any information which it is in his power to give and may lead to identification of the driver.A requirement to give information may be made by written notice served by post. You must fulfil this requirement within 28 days from when the notice is served. If you fail to comply with the above requirements, you are guilty of an offence unless: You show either that you gave the information as soon as reasonably practicable or that it has not been reasonably practicable for you to give it. You show that you did not know and could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained who the driver of the vehicle was.

Likely sentence or penalty

The offence is triable only in the Magistrates Court and carries a maximum Level 3 fine and/or 6 points.

Our advice

A Section 172 Notice’ or notice of intended prosecution (NIP) is often the first time you will realise you have committed a driving offence. If you receive a section 172 notice, you are under a legal duty to respond to it. Your response to the notice will have to be filled in properly to avoid being prosecuted. If you were not the driver you will have to fill in the form with the details of the person who was or who had the vehicle at the time. A notice will then be sent to that person. If you were the driver then you are required to identify yourself as such. If you do not, you will very probably be prosecuted for failing to identify the driver. If you give false information and are found out it will get you into serious trouble with the very realistic chance of a prison sentence for perverting the course of justice. The widely reported case of the MP Chris Huhne is a salutary reminder. The police have 14 days to serve the registered keeper with a section 172 notice, otherwise you may have a defence to the suspected offence, eg. speeding. There are also technical defences that may arise from a defective section 172 notice.

Some other common defences are:

Due Diligence

If you cannot identify the driver it is a defence to show that you could not have done so with ‘due diligence’.

Notice was not received

It is a defence if it was not ‘reasonably practicable’ for you to have given the information. This will be the case if you did not get the notice.

Your response was not received

This is self-explanatory, but as with all defences you will usually have to give evidence in court and convince the Magistrates.

It is highly recommended that you seek advice from specialist motoring or criminal defence lawyers who will either be able to help you avoid a conviction or limit the damage by securing a reduced sentence.

Rose & Dunn can represent you for a fixed fee or possibly on legal aid. Contact us for further advice and assistance including a free initial appraisal of your case with no obligation.