Notices of Intended Prosecution and the 14 day Time Limit
Late and Defective Notices of Intended Prosecution
If a Notice of Intended Prosecution is defective or late, you may have a defence to the original offence.
The Notice must:
– Specify the date, place and nature of the alleged offence
– Be properly served
NIPs are not required for all offences and are not required in certain circumstances. More information can be found below.
Our solicitors can advise you about defective Notices of Intended Prosecution. If you are unsure about whether it has been served correctly and within time, get advice today.
Requests for Driver Information
The Notice of Intended Prosecution is usually combined with a request for driver information. This request is sometimes referred to as a s.172 Notice.
Although the request for driver details is usually included on the same piece of paper as the NIP, there are important differences between the two. There is no time limit for service of a request for driver details. If you have received a Single Justice Procedure Notice and been accused of failing to give driver details, please click here.
Notice of Intended Prosecution Legal Summary
When is a Notice of Intended Prosecution Required?
Section 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 requires that for certain offences:
- the defendant must have been warned at the time of the possibility of prosecution for the offence; or
- the defendant must have been served with the summons within 14 days of the offence; or
- notice of the possibility of the prosecution must have been sent by the prosecutor within 14 days of the offence either to the driver or to the registered keeper of the vehicle.
The 14 day time limit only applies to the first NIP the Police send out. This will usually be to the person or company named on the logbook (V5C)
Which Offences Require an NIP?
- Dangerous Driving
- Careless Driving (Driving without Due Care and Attention)
- Contravening traffic signals eg. red light offences
The police are not required to serve a notice for allegations of using a mobile phone or handheld device while driving.
A Notice will not be required if:
- you were stopped and warned at the time by police;
- you were involved in an accident.
How Must an NIP be Sent?
Section 1(1A) of the 1988 Offenders Act requires that a notice required by this section may be served upon a person:
- by delivering it to him;
- by addressing it to him and leaving it at his last known address; or
- by sending it by registered post, recorded delivery service or first class post, addressed to him at his last known address.
The Police most commonly send notices by first class post. It is rare for them to use any other method.
Notices of Intended Prosecution FAQs
What is the Time Limit for receiving a Notice of Intended Prosecution?
Where the police are required to serve a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP), the prosecution only needs to prove that they posted it so that you should receive it within 14 days. The police must serve the notice on either the driver or the registered keeper.
If your defence is that you did not receive it within this timescale, the onus is on you to prove it on the balance of probabilities.
The 14-day requirement only applies to the first NIP sent. If the vehicle is a company car, the police will send the first notice to the registered keeper, i.e. the company within 14 days. If the company then identifies you as the driver, a second notice may be sent out to you, but the 14-day rule will not apply.
There is a presumption of good service where a notice is sent by first class post. However, it is a rebuttable presumption which means that:
Where notice has been sent by first class post to the last known address of the person, so that it could have been delivered within 14-days of the alleged offence, proper service is deemed to have taken place unless the contrary is proved.
There is a presumption that letters sent by post will be delivered in the “ordinary course of the post”. For first-class mail, that is the second working day after posting.
What if I didn't receive the Notice of Intended Prosecution within 14 days?
Failure to comply with the 14 day NIP requirement means that there cannot be a conviction for the offence to which it relates. You should be aware that if the police stopped you at the time of the alleged offence or there was an accident, there is no need for a notice.
There are a couple of exceptions, including where the police could not with reasonable diligence ascertain either the driver’s or the registered keeper’s identity in time for the police to serve a notice.
Once the prosecution has shown that they posted the NIP in time, the burden of proof will shift to you to show that you didn’t receive it.
How do I Prove that I Didn't Receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution?
It’s easy to prove that you received something, but difficult to prove you did not.
Remember, what matters is whether the notice was served at your last known address – usually the one on your vehicle logbook. It does not necessarily matter whether you personally received the notice.
The court will often determine this question at trial. You will have to give evidence that you did not receive the notice. Courts may be sceptical of this defence, so you have to deal with it carefully. The reason is that some people view this argument as a ‘loophole’ which allows drivers to avoid responsibility for an offence.
The police apply speed limits very strictly, so courts should apply time limits strictly too. However, Courts are sometimes reluctant to acquit drivers on what they deem to be a technicality, even though it is a perfectly valid defence. Speak to us if you are considering using this argument.
What if I Forgot to Update My Vehicle Logbook (V5C) Address When I Moved House?
Forgetting to update your logbook when you move address is a common mistake. Often people change the address on their driving licence, but not on their logbook. Sometimes people forget to change their address with their insurers too.
Unfortunately, the NIP will be sent to the registered keeper’s last known address. This is usually the address on the V5C. It does not matter if you did not personally receive the Notice if it was served correctly.
At the point that the initial NIP and request for driver details are sent out, the police do not usually know who was driving. For this reason, the last known address is usually taken from the logbook or insurance documentation. It would be unusual for the police to check the records against those on the registered keeper’s driving licence.
As a result, many people face prosecution and the prospect of 6 points for failing to provide driver details due to an innocent administrative error. If you find yourself in this position, you really should get some advice before entering your plea. Even if you were not the driver of the vehicle involved in the original traffic offence eg. speeding, the court could still find you guilty of failing to give driver details. If you are convicted after a trial, you may have to pay several hundred pounds in prosecution costs as well as receiving 6 penalty points. Speak to us today if you are unsure what to do.
What if the Details on the Notice of Intended Prosecution are Wrong?
It depends what the error on the Notice of Intended Prosecution is.
The courts will generally no longer allow minor typographical errors to prevent a prosecution from succeeding. The general test is whether you are disadvantaged by the error.
The purpose of the NIP is to alert a driver shortly after the incident of an alleged offence. The recipient should have a better chance of being able to provide accurate information about the driver and the event itself. Your memory will be better nearer the time.
If for example, the Notice did not adequately specify the ‘place’ of the offence, you could have a defence.
If you think that your Notice is defective, please give us a call or fill out our contact form.
If I didn't Receive the Notice of Intended Prosecution Because I was Away From Home, Will I Have a Defence?
If you did not receive the Notice of Intended Prosecution or NIP because you were on holiday, you would not have a defence. The issue is whether the notice was served correctly to the registered keeper’s last known address.
If you intend to be away from home for a lengthy period, make arrangements to deal with your mail. You should arrange for the post office or a responsible person to redirect or forward your mail.
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