Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states that a registered keeper of a vehicle must supply the identity of a driver at the time of an alleged offence. This means that no matter who was driving, the registered owner of a vehicle must state it to the police and be accurate about the identity. This notice is usually sent after a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) has been sent to the vehicle’s registered keeper. The NIP notice will include a request to identify the driver, which is the 172 element of the notice.
Will identifying the Driver make them instantly guilty?
The purpose of the section 172 of the Road Traffic Act is to force individuals (whether they are the day-to-day keeper or the registered keeper of a vehicle) to provide the identity of the driver at the time of the alleged offence. Therefore, section 172 allows the Police to know who the driver was at the time of an alleged offence when it has been detected by an un-manned device (for example a speed camera).
Therefore, identifying either yourself or another driver at the time of an alleged offence is different from confessing to the offence itself. You have simply provided the Police with a piece of evidence in relation to the driver’s identification. Whoever the driver is will still be able to defend the charge itself. For example, they can suggest that they were not speeding at the time of the alleged offence and so on.
What are the penalties for failing to identify a driver?
If a NIP notice is not returned to the police and the driver at the time of the alleged offence is not named, then the registered keeper of the vehicle will have breached the Section 172 legislations. This will result in a penalty of six driving license points and a fine of up to £1000. The Courts also have the power to impose a driving ban to the registered keeper of the vehicle, but this is rarely enforced as the points and fine penalties are preferred.
Note here, that this offence is directed not to the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence, but at the registered keeper of the vehicle. Therefore, even if it were the registered keeper’s friend or son/daughter who was driving at the time of the offence, the registered keeper would still be liable if the identity of the driver is not correctly stated.
Are there any defences to failing to identify a driver?
Section 172 has two statutory defences. These are:
- Reasonable Diligence Argument
- Not Reasonably Practice Identify the Driver
Reasonable Diligence Argument
The reasonable diligence argument defence is only available to the registered keeper at the time of the offence. Section 172, sub-section 4 states that you shall that you shall not be convicted of failing to provide a driver’s information if you can show that you used reasonable diligence to ascertain who was driving at the time of the offence. This means that you have done your best to deliver the information.
Importantly, there is no case law in relation to the definition of what does and does not amount to ‘reasonable diligence’. As a result, every case is different and decided on its own facts.
Due to Reasonable Diligence Argument being a statutory defence, the burden will be on you to show that you exercised reasonable diligence. Here at Driving Solicitors, we can help you to defend this complicated argument. Factors to consider include:
- Have you received a Notice of Intended Prosecution?
- Were you sure as to how to respond to the notice?
- Were you entirely certain who was driving at the time?
If you were not sure who was driving, you might have delayed your response to the police. Our team at Driving Solicitors can help you make sure that you have done your best and can therefore use the reasonable diligence argument defence. We can also suggest various methods to figure who may have been driving at the time. Also, it is feasible in some circumstances that you might be unable to identify driver. As a result, you would be incapable of nominating the driver of the vehicle at the time.
Not Reasonably Practicable to Identify Driver
Section 172, sub-section 7.b, states that you shall not be convicted of failure to provide driver information if you can;
- Show that it was not ‘reasonably practicable’ to supply the information within the 28 days allowed,
- Outside of the said 28 days, you will still have a defence if you can show that you provided the information ‘as soon as reasonably practicable thereafter’.
There will be some drivers who did not receive the request for driver information and therefore could not respond. As a result, it has been so long that people can no longer remember who was driving at the time of the alleged offence. This will normally relate to a fairly innocuous journey close to your home address. This also applies if there are a number of people who are insured to drive the vehicle in question.
How can we help?
If you have been charged with a section 172 notice and have failed to identify a driver, we are here to help. We can provide you with our expert defence team to represent your case in court and help you avoid a potentially damaging criminal record.
We will look at all the facts of the accusation and decide what defence against the driving offence is best for your case. This will also include everything from the facts of the case all the way to whether your actions actually amounted to a criminal act.
Our team of litigators and advocates have many years of experience analysing complex factual scenarios and applying them to often novel areas of law. This ensures that we get the best possible results for our clients. Please do not hesitate to call us on 0208 059 0010 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to get expert legal advice for you and your case.