So you’ve come home and there’s a letter in a brown envelope stating your vehicle has been seen committing an offence, usually speeding. The police want to know who was driving, or inform you that they intend to prosecute – what next?

Things you should know..

Generally, the letter will either be a ‘Notice of Intended Prosecution’ (NIP), or a Section 172 Notice, but it is not unusual for both to be served at the same time. 

A NIP can be served on the registered owner of the vehicle or the driver of the vehicle at the time of the offence. There are a number of offences that will require service of an NIP, most commonly speeding and driving without due care, although they are not required if there has been an accident. An NIP must be served within 14 days from the date of the incident. Service is deemed to have taken place 2 working days after it was sent. It is presumed that the notice has been correctly served and received, and it is for the recipient to prove that it wasn’t. An incorrect address could mean that the prosecution proceeds without your knowledge and result in a nasty surprise when penalty points appear on your licence..

A Section 172 Notice requires the recipient (usually the registered owner of the vehicle) to declare who was driving the vehicle at the time of the incident. In this case, the Prosecution has to prove that the Notice was sent out to the correct address, but they do not have to prove that it was received. If it was not received, it’s up to the recipient to prove this. Again, notice is deemed to be served within 2 working days.

The recipient must reply within 28 days. If you fail to respond you could be liable for 6 penalty points and a hefty fine. It should be noted that this is a fine and punishment in its own right – it does not necessarily replace any potential punishment for the original offence.

You may have a defence if you cannot say who was driving the vehicle and you have used reasonable diligence to find out. If the vehicle is a company vehicle, the company must keep records of who was driving, unless it’s reasonable not to.

Section 172 notices can present motorists with a wide variety of difficulties; ‘reasonable diligence’ can be a very subjective term. Occasionally the police will supply a photograph of the driver in instances of speeding allegations, but experience dictates that this case be little more than a feint, blurred picture of the back of someone’s head..

Also, if you finally manage to establish the driver of the vehicle after 28 days, what then?

If you find yourself in difficulty with this or any other motoring matter, we can help. We provide straight forward, practical advice from experienced and dedicated solicitors.

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