Company Failing To Name The Driver
Companies – Section 172 Road Traffic Act 1988
The road traffic offence of failing to name / nominate the driver of a vehicle at the time of an alleged offence can be alleged against a company as well as against an individual.
This normally happens if the vehicle is a company car and the company is the registered owner at the DVLA.
If the company is asked to name the driver at the time of an alleged road traffic offence and the company fails in its duty to do so then the company can be summonsed to court. The company will face a hefty fine unless it can defend the allegation.
If a company is summonsed to court for this offence then there is no risk of penalty points unless an individual within the company is being held personally responsible.
The prosecution can try and show that the failure to name the driver was due to the negligence or connivance of an individual within the company – for example the company secretary or a director.
Company defences to failing to name the driver
The company can defend the allegation if the company can show on the balance of probabilities that it did not receive the request for driver identity in the first place. s.172(7)(b) RTA 1988.
The company can defend the allegation if it can show on the balance of probabilities that it has used reasonable diligence to figure out who was driving at the time of the alleged offence.
The company is only allowed to rely on this road traffic defence if it can show that it was reasonable in the circumstances for the company not to have kept records of who was driving the vehicle at the time !
If you run a company and want to be able to rely on the reasonable diligence defence (if you are ever unable to name the driver) make sure you have a good system of record keeping in place and all your employees know about the system. Otherwise if the company is unable to name the driver you will not be able to use this defence.
Company Responsibility & Section 172
If a company is asked to provide driver information, (normally the company that is the registered keeper of the vehicle) then the company must supply that information or again, prove that it was not reasonably practicable or that the company has used reasonable diligence to work out who was driving at the time and has been unable to ascertain that information.
An important difference between the company and an individual is that if a company tries to use a reasonable diligence argument, the company first has to prove that it was reasonable not to have a record in the circumstances. Effectively this means that companies have to keep records of who is driving their vehicles at any given time or risk hefty fines for failing to provide information if they are unable to name the driver when asked.
We represent lots of companies around the country who have been accused of this offence. One of the most common circumstances relates to companies where their employees are involved in construction or plumbing or are electricians.
These types of organisations often work in teams and will be nipping back and forward from the site and to builder’s merchants etc, during the course of the day. All the employees are insured to drive the vehicle in question and no specific log is kept of who drives the vehicle at any given point during the day.
We have had good success in these cases arguing that it was not ‘reasonably practicable’ in the circumstances for these organisations to keep such a detailed log due to the nature of the work. We have also had good success defending cases where the company has a log keeping system and the employees do not stick to it.
We have therefore successfully argued that it was reasonable in the circumstances not to have a record because despite there being a system of record keeping, that system has failed through no fault of the senior managers in the company.
If you represent a company and your company has been accused of this offence, the fines can be extremely high and obviously the company can end up with what is technically a criminal conviction. Contact us or call in for an urgent response….
The law in relation to individuals who are asked to name the driver is difference see here for further guidance in that respect.
The law in relation to s.172 is very complex.
If you need advice about a company failing to name the driver please click here to ASK US A FREE QUESTION and find out how we can help you.
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