The registered keeper of a vehicle has a legal obligation to provide details of who was driving at the time of an alleged motoring offence. Failing to provide drivers identity carries 6 penalty points on your licence and up to £1000 fine.
Because of our success rates, motorists regularly instruct us to defend more allegations of failing to provide driver information than any other offence under the Road Traffic Act.
You will find a lot of on-line websites suggesting differently or providing packs of letters that are guaranteed to ‘get you off’ a speeding matter.
From what we have seen and what we know of the response from the Police, these letters are nearly always doomed to fail.
Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act is aimed at forcing individuals (whether they are the day-to-day keeper of the motor vehicle or the registered keeper on the V5 document) to provide the identity of the driver at the time of an alleged road traffic offence.
Hence, Section 172 really is a sledgehammer of a piece of legislation. Most road traffic offences are detected by un-manned devices or without actually stopping and speaking to the driver.
Because of this, the Police need a means of forcing individuals to provide relevant driver details if they are in a position to do so.
Therefore, nominating either yourself or another as the driver at the time of an alleged offence is not the same as confessing to having committing the offence itself.
You will simply be providing the Police with one piece of evidence specifically in relation to driver identification.
Importantly, the person nominated is still perfectly entitled to defend the charge itself by either suggesting that they, for example, were not driving without due care and attention or that they were not speeding at the time of the alleged offence.
We get lots of enquiries from people who suggest that the request for driver information is against their human rights and the doctrine against self-incrimination.
Indeed, there have been many cases that have gone all the way to the European Courts in this regard. We are afraid to say that they have all failed miserably.
Only the registered keeper at the time of the offence can raise a Reasonable Diligence Argument.
S172, sub-section 4, states that you shall not be convicted of failing to provide driver information if you can show that you used reasonable diligence to ascertain who was driving at the time of the incident or offence.
Roughly translated, this means trying your best.
The Courts will often expect you to have used 'exceptional diligence'. We always resist this suggestion strenuously on behalf of our clients who are contesting these allegations.
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.
In one of our Crown Court cases on Appeal, a Judge said that in his opinion the phrase 'reasonable diligence' simply translated to 'doing your best'.
Because this is a statutory defence, the burden will be on you to show, on the balance of probabilities (i.e. more likely than not) that you exercised reasonable diligence.
We can help you to defend this complicated argument. Have you received a Notice of Intended Prosecution? If you are not sure how to respond because you are unable to identify who was driving, then contact us before responding to the Police.
Our team can help you make sure that you have done your best. Additionally, we can suggest various methods of trying to figure out who may have been driving at the time.
We will also give you advice on whether or not you are likely to succeed with a Reasonable Diligence Argument.
It is feasible in some circumstances that you might be unable to identify driver.
S.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.
Sub-section 7.b goes on to state that outside of the 28 days; You will still have a defence if you can show that you provided the information 'as soon as reasonably practicable thereafter'.
We tend to advance this defence on behalf of some clients. These are drivers who did not receive the request for driver information and therefore could not respond.
In some cases there is a delay in sending out a request. As a result it's been so long that our clients 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. Furthermore, where there are a number of people who are insured to drive the vehicle in question.
We are extremely successful in defending S.172 allegations. Over the last 7 years we have defended 92 percent of those cases that we have taken on to defend.
We've also managed to get 70 percent of those cases withdrawn without the need for a trial. To do this, we make detailed representations to the Crown Prosecution Service on behalf of our clients.
A lot of our clients tell us that they did actually respond to the notice and supplied the requested information. As such, they cannot understand why the Police did not receive their response.
This does not constitute a statutory defence. To defend yourself, you will need to cast a reasonable doubt on the Prosecution's suggestion that you did not 'give' the information.
Thus, in theory, this is a far easier argument. There is no statutory burden upon a Defendant to prove service.
In theory, if the Court accept that you completed all of these steps, you should be found not guilty. You should be able to cast that reasonable doubt.
Again, if this is your argument/defence then we need to talk to you. We can explain the argument in more detail and go through the facts of your case in order to give you more specific advice.
There is a lot of case law in relation to S.172 driver identity offences.
We will be able to apply any relevant case law to your circumstances. Call us and have a discussion about the specifics of what has happened.
Have you been accused of this offence simply because you have a connection to the vehicle?
Perhaps somebody else has suggested that you may have been the driver?
The burden upon you is to simply provide information 'that is within your power to give'.
So, you can respond, saying that you do not have the information as to who was driving.
The Prosecution would then have to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that you did not provide the information that was in your power to give in order for you to be convicted.
The Prosecution would therefore have to make the Court 90 percent or more sure that you had the information.
Information that would have assisted them to establish who was driving, and you failed to provide it.
Again, this is a very strong argument and we have extremely high success rates in defending people using this particular argument.
Have you been accused of failing to nominate/provide driver information? Contact us urgently and we WILL be able to assist.
The penalties for failure to provide driver information are indicated below.
As previously stated, S.172 is a sledgehammer of a piece of legislation. Schedule 2 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 states that if you are convicted of this offence, you will be liable to;
We have separate information covering the rules for companies accused of not providing a drivers identity are different to those for private vehicles..... please see here for company Section 172 information
In conclusion, Section 172 offences can be successfully defended if you know precisely how to handle the situation.
Do you have any questions about Section 172 (S172) - Fail to Name Driver offences? Please ask and we will gladly give you legal advice based on the specifics of your case and offence.
Very helpful advice and understanding from the outset, very good at updating me also on progress.
Today I won my case at Southend Magistrates Court. I would not have done so without the professionalism that PattersonLaw displayed from my very first telephone call. I would particularly like to thank you Hannah for your first class effort on my behalf; you imparted relevant knowledge which provided me with clarity and confidence. My barrister, Alban Brahimi, was sensational too!
Graham, A big thank you for all help and support during my representation. This is absolutely fantastic news, once again many thanks to you and your team.
I was kept informed throughout. It was money well spent, thank you. You will struggle to improve, I was very happy with everything you did for me.