“Failure to Identify Driver” refers to Section 172 Road Traffic Act 1988. This is the section in the RTA 1988 which creates the legal obligation to provide information as to the identity of the driver of a vehicle who is alleged to have committed certain driving offences. The most common examples of the use of section 172 notices is where a car has gone past a speed camera while exceeding the speed limit or after going through a red light. The dreaded Gatso, Truvelo and the new Hadecs 3, to name just a few of the cameras, measure speed and take photos of the offending vehicle.
An automated system at the Ticket Office identifies the Registered Keeper via DVLA records and a combined Notice of Intended Prosecution and section 172 are posted to the Keeper within 14 days. The Keeper must name the driver – either themselves or another person. If another driver is nominated the Ticket Office send a new NIP and section 172 to that person who is then obliged to provide driver details. You have 28 days from the date you receive the section 172 to respond, otherwise you commit the offence of failure to identify driver. Warren Bergson is one of the country’s top legal experts defending section 172 offences with an enviable success record.
Received a section 172 in the post?
Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 says that you must do everything in your power to provide any information which may lead to the identification of the driver and you must respond within 28 days. If you ignore the section 172 or fail to disclose the identity of the driver to the police, then you will be guilty of the offence of failure to provide information as to identity of driver. The penalty for this offence is 6 points or disqualification plus a fine. It is important to note that section 172 is an entirely separate offence from the original speeding or other driving offence. Just because you were not the driver does not justify failure to disclose driver details and is no defence to a charge of failure to identify driver.
Not sure who was the driver?
It often happens that there was more than one possible driver, for example a husband and wife who shared the driving or a company vehicle which a number of employees are insured to drive. It may be impossible to say for certain who the driver was. In these cases it is absolutely vital to follow the correct legal procedures otherwise you are likely to be found guilty even if you were not the driver and you don’t know who the driver was.
The law says you must act immediately you receive a section 172; you must make enquiries of all the possible drivers and you must be totally up front with the police from Day One.
We once had a case where the person who received the section 172 alleging speeding wrote to the police with the names of 3 drivers including himself, saying it was definitely one of them but he did not know which. We were sure he was being 100% honest but the question was whether he had really done his best to ascertain the driver. Our client was using the defence of reasonable diligence i.e. he had done his very best to find out who had been driving but could not say for certain. He was cross-examined by the prosecutor who questioned him very closely as to exactly what steps he had taken to identify the driver. When did he start his enquiries? It turned out that he left matters for 21 days (he was a very busy businessman!) Had he checked the supermarket receipts and credit card details of all 3? This was vital information because one of the journeys was to a supermarket to buy goods for sale on his catering unit. This journey took the vehicle on a particular route where it was flashed by a camera for speeding. Although our client was convicted in the Magistrates’ Court we managed to find a legal loophole and he was found not guilty on appeal to the Crown Court. He was also awarded substantial legal costs for the trial and the successful appeal.
Advice about s172 Road Traffic Act
If you have tried your best but still genuinely can’t identify the driver you must still reply to the section 172 giving all the information you have. You must do so within 28 days. The law requires that the Notice of Intended Prosecution be served by the police within 14 days. Because the NIP and the section 172 are invariably served together this means that when the Registered Keeper receives the s172 form memories should still be fresh as to who might have been driving. The courts have said that the recipient of a section 172 cannot sit back and take their time to give the information. Merely asking the police for photos will not extend the time for giving what information you already have. It is good practice to fill in the section 172 form as much as you can and to sign it even if it is necessary to send it with a covering letter. You may have to write to the police more than once. Doing everything you can to identify the driver means just that.
A Stitch in Time
What you do (or fail to do) in the first days after receiving a section 172 can be absolutely crucial to the defence you raise later in court. So when you get a section 172 in the post you should consult Universal Motoring Lawyers immediately. Do not wait till you get a court summons, your case may be lost by then. We advise clients exactly what to do when they have received a section 172. We draft the letters to the police for you. We write to the Crown Prosecution Service and point out weaknesses in their case. We have a good record of getting the CPS to drop the case without you having to go to court at all. Universal Motoring Lawyers like to be pro-active. As Warren Bergson says: “Section 172 is like sewing – a stitch in time saves 9!”
Companies and section 172
A s172 offence can be committed by a limited company. However, not being the actual driver, a company itself cannot receive penalty points or be disqualified. A company can only be fined and ordered to pay costs etc. Nonetheless, in certain circumstances company directors can be personally liable for the offence committed by the company and punished accordingly.
Penalties for s172
6 penalty points or disqualification plus a fine, prosecution costs and Victim Surcharge.
Don’t forget that failure to identify driver offences carry SIX penalty points. You only have to forget to deal with the form twice in 3 years and you will be on 12 points and facing a totting up disqualification. You can pay a heavy price for being careless about paperwork. Our advice is when you get the section 172 in the post pick up the phone and call Universal Motoring Lawyers for clear, no nonsense and practical advice. Your licence may depend on it!