Guide: Naming the driver offences

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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. 

Have you received a section 172 notice?

Have you received a Notice of Intended Prosecution / statutory request for driver details?

There is a legal requirement to identify, for the police, the name of the person driving the vehicle when it is alleged that a road traffic offence has been committed. When they do this the recipient has 28 days to respond.

The police only have to write to the vehicle’s registered keeper within 14 days of the offence, warning of prosecution. If you are the registered keeper then you must respond. If you were the driver, but someone else owns the car, then it may take some time before you get something through the post.

Also, you cannot hide behind the Human Rights Act. It is entirely your choice not to incriminate yourself, but that will not prevent the police from prosecuting you for failing to respond. So far, the domestic courts have held that your right not to incriminate yourself is outweighed by the rights of the wider public to be protected from speeding motorists. Therefore, it is currently not a defence to an offence of failing to name the driver, to say that you had a right not to respond. This point has now been taken to the European Court which has ruled that it is not an infringement of a person's human rights.

That said, the police don’t always get it right and we have secured acquittals where errors have occurred. It is important to seek advice as soon as you receive a police request.

Penalties

The penalty for failing to respond is a maximum fine of £1,000; six penalty points or a driving disqualification.

Case studies

Failing to provide details of a speeding driver in Hampshire

Barry Culshaw was consulted by K with regard to an allegation that he had failed to identify details of a speeding driver contrary to Section 172(3) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The prosecution had been brought by Hampshire Constabulary and came before a District Judge for trial at Southampton Magistrates Court on 2 June 2009. Mr Culshaw took witness statements to support K's contention that due to problems with the post he had not received the request for driver details. The District Judge accepted the evidence and dismissed the case finding K not guilty.

Driver accused of not providing driver details in Oxford

Tim Williamson recently represented a motorist accused of not providing driver details after an alleged speeding offence took place near Oxford. The client maintained that he could not identify who was driving because he was one of two people that used the car and the photograph he requested was unclear and offered no assistance. Both of the potential drivers drove the car on the road in question several times each day. After representations to the Crown Prosecution Service from Mr Williamson that the client used 'reasonable diligence' to try and ascertain who was driving on the day in question, the case was formally discontinued before getting to trial.

Driver accused of not providing driver details in Oxford

Tim Williamson recently represented a motorist accused of not providing driver details after an alleged speeding offence took place near Oxford. The client maintained that he could not identify who was driving because he was one of two people that used the car and the photograph he requested was unclear and offered no assistance. Both of the potential drivers drove the car on the road in question several times each day. After representations to the Crown Prosecution Service from Mr Williamson that the client used 'reasonable diligence' to try and ascertain who was driving on the day in question, the case was formally discontinued before getting to trial.

For further case studies click here