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Failing to Provide Driver Details Offences

Failing to Provide Driver Details is a separate offence from the original offence, eg. speeding.

When there is an alleged driving offence such as speeding and the driver was not stopped at the time, the police will usually send a combined Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) and Request for Driver Information pursuant to S.172 Road Traffic Act 1988.

NIPs and Driver Information Requests

These two documents each have a different legal status although they are often written on the same piece of paper.

The NIP is served because many driving offences require the police to warn the registered keeper or driver of possible prosecution within 14 days. If this is not done, you may have a defence to the allegation to which it relates.

If you would like to know more about NIPs please visit Notice of Intended Prosecution

Time Limits

Requests for driver details can be made at any time and are not subject to the same 14-day time limit as NIPs. This means you can still be guilty of failing to give driver details if the request is received outside the 14-day time limit, even if there can be no prosecution for the original offence of say, speeding.

You do not have to be the registered keeper of a vehicle to be convicted of failing to provide driver details. Most frequently, offences of failing to give driver information are dealt with by way of a Single Justice Procedure Notice. Sometimes there will also be a charge for the original offence such as speeding.

Your Obligations if You Receive a Request for Driver Details

If you receive a s.172 notice warning you of possible prosecution and asking you to identify the driver of the vehicle involved in an alleged driving offence, you have an obligation to respond to it.

If you do not respond or do not provide the details of the driver, you are potentially guilty of failing to give driver details. This offence occurs if you fail to give details of who was driving the vehicle on the date of the offence within the requisite 28 days time period, or as soon as reasonably practicable.

It is usually sufficient if the notice confirms that the vehicle in question was seen at a particular place at a particular time. The police do not have to prove that an offence was committed.

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Defences to failing to give driver details

Keeper of the Vehicle

If you are the keeper of the vehicle, the defences are:

  • if you did not know and could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained details of the driver or,
  • if it was not practicable for you to give the information.

The ‘keeper of a vehicle’ is not necessarily the same as the registered keeper. The keeper is the person in day-to-day control of the vehicle

If you are the keeper of a vehicle and you fail to give the information required, you may be able to rely on the defence that it is not in your power to give the information. However, you must be able to show that you used reasonable diligence and could not ascertain who the driver was.

If you did not receive the request, you may be able to argue that it was not practicable to provide the information.

It is not an automatic defence if the reason you did not receive the notice is that you did not update the address on your V5C Logbook.

Not the Keeper of the Vehicle

If you are not the keeper of the vehicle, the prosecution must prove that you had additional information that you withheld, which could have led to the identity of a driver. You do not need to show reasonable diligence in trying to find out who the driver was.

As with keepers, you may be able to argue that it was not practicable for you to give the information if you did not receive the request.

If you would like to know more, please contact us today.

Cases involving companies

Companies are usually expected to keep records of who is driving their vehicles. Therefore, a company may not necessarily be able to rely on the first defence above, unless it can show that it was reasonable for the business not to keep records.

For more information please see our FAQs on failing to name a driver below.

Failing to name a driver Summary

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Legal Definition

Where the driver of a vehicle is alleged to be guilty of an offence to which the section applies:

  • (a) the person keeping the vehicle shall 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; and
  • (b) any other person shall if required as stated above give any information which it is in his power to give and may lead to the identification of the driver.
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Other Names

Fail to furnish driver details, failing to name the driver, s.172 offence, failing to identify the driver of a vehicle

Main Legislation

Section 172 Road Traffic Act 1988

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Maximum Penalties

Driving Penalties: 6 penalty points or a discretionary driving ban (no maximum)

Fine: £1,000

Court

Magistrates only (unless an appeal)

Imprisonable? No

Failing to give driver details FAQs

What do the police have to prove for careless driving?

If you genuinely don’t know who the driver of the vehicle was, then you need to explain fully the reasons for this on the form and give the full details of the potential drivers. If you are the keeper of the vehicle it will not be enough to state that you don’t know. If you are not the keeper of the vehicle, stating that you can’t identify the driver may be sufficient.

As a general rule, you need to complete the notice as fully as possible.

Even if you don’t know who the driver was and you explain this fully on the form, it’s unlikely that the matter will end there. The police are likely to send out a Single Justice Procedure Notice, and the court will determine whether you’re telling the truth after a trial.

If the matter goes to trial, the notice you completed will form a vital part of your evidence. If you’ve not completed it fully but have returned it properly within the timescale, the court could find you guilty even if you genuinely don’t know who the driver is.

Do I have the right to remain silent?

Case law confirms that the right to remain silent does not apply where there is a request for a driver’s identity.

The European Court of Human Rights considered whether the requirement of a person charged with a speeding offence to make statements which incriminated him, or could lead to his incrimination, was compatible with Article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1988.

The court determined that given the potential for motor cars to cause grave injury, those who kept and drove them had to be taken to have accepted certain responsibilities under that regime. This included an obligation to provide information upon request as to the identity of the driver of a vehicle suspected of involvement in a road traffic offence. In all the circumstances, there was no breach of Article 6.

What if the request for driver details went to an old address?

If the notice has gone to an old address this will not be an automatic defence.

If it has gone to an old address because you have not updated your logbook, this will rarely result in a defence unless you have made some other arrangements to receive your mail.

The requirement is for the Notice to be served upon the driver or keeper at his or her last known address. The last known address of the registered keeper will usually be the one on the logbook. Ordinarily, unless you can provide evidence that it was not received at that address, you will not be able to use the fact that you did not receive the notice as a defence.

The same principle applies if for example you are out of the country for some time and have not made arrangments to deal with your mail.

If you are in doubt, you should get in touch for a consultation before you enter your plea.

What if the police say they didn't receive my response?

The prosecution only has to show that they sent the request so that it should be delivered in the ordinary course of post.

In the same way, you only have to prove that you gave the information in response to the s.172 request. You do not have to prove that it was delivered. Usually, this means going in the witness box and explaining to the court what you put on the form. You will also have to confirm that you put it in the post. If you sent the reply via some form of recorded delivery, you may avoid having to attend court. Otherwise, you’ll likely have to attend court to give your evidence at trial. If the court accepts your evidence, you’ll have a defence and the court will acquit you.

Although there is no obligation to use recorded mail when returning a notice, it’s a good idea to do so.

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