Why identifying driver involved in speeding incident may not be enough
Blake Morgan's Driver Defence team is the leading team of specialist road traffic lawyers in the South of England. We have been recognised by legal directory Chambers and Partners: A Client's Guide to the Legal Profession 2017 as a Band 1 firm in this field. Our team of specialist lawyers travel all the country to help motorists facing a driving ban or having penalty points put on their licence. Our work has taken us to Magistrates and Crown Courts all over the country. Many of our cases have reached the Higher Courts.
H consulted Blake Morgan's Driver Defence team having received a Single Justice Procedure Notice returnable before Warrington Magistrates' Court alleging counts of speeding and failing to identify driver details. The proceedings were initiated by Cheshire Constabulary.
At all material times H was the owner and registered keeper of a particular motor vehicle which was involved in a speeding incident within the temporary 50 mph speed restriction along the M6 southbound carriageway between junctions 19 and 18 at Cranage. An average speed camera system installed along the section of road produced a recorded average speed for the vehicle of 57 mph within a temporary 50 mph speed restriction.
As registered keeper of the vehicle H received a combined notice of intended prosecution ("NIP") and request for driver details issued by Cheshire Constabulary's Central Ticket Office (CTO). Upon receipt of the NIP and the request H immediately realised that it was not him driving the vehicle at the material time. Although H drove the vehicle on a regular basis there were other family members and acquaintances authorised and insured to drive the vehicle. H made enquiries and established that the driver was A. H responded in a timely fashion to the CTO nominating A as the driver. The CTO subsequently responded requesting details of A's date of birth. These details were not known to H and despite H's efforts to obtain this information he was unable to comply with the request of the CTO.
How our Driver Defence solicitors helped
Barry Culshaw a consultant and road traffic specialist within Blake Morgan's Motoring Offences team advised H to plead not guilty to both counts. With reference to the speeding count H was not guilty of the speeding incident as he was not the driver. In regard to the failing to provide driver details count H had identified the name and address of the driver and had made every effort to obtain the outstanding details of A's date of birth.
The matter came for trial before the Warrington justices. The prosecutor accepted that the speeding count could not be proved against H. However, the prosecutor was insistent in proceeding on the count of failing to provide driver details. H gave evidence in support of his defence and the justices found H not guilty accepting that he made efforts to identify the date of birth including visits to A's house and leaving messages. A defence costs order was granted in H's favour.
This case demonstrates that naming a driver may not necessarily be a complete defence to an allegation of failing to provide driver details to the police. By virtue of section 172(2)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 in situations such as a speeding offence the person keeping the vehicle is required to give such information as to the identity of the driver as he may be required to give by or on behalf of a chief officer of police. Although the justices did not make it entirely clear as to the basis of the acquittal there is a defence available in such circumstances pursuant to section 172(7)(b) if the recipient of a request for driver details shows that it was not reasonably practicable for him to give the information.
The case also illustrates the importance of motorists who face this type of prosecution to ensure that they seek specialist legal advice and representation.