I have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution. What do I have to do next?
Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act is aimed at forcing individuals (whether they are the registered keeper on the V5 document, or the driver of the vehicle on the date in question) to provide the identity of the driver at the time of an alleged road traffic offence.
The legislation was introduced as many traffic offences are detected by un-manned devices, or identified by officers who do not actually speak to the driver. For this reason, it was accepted that the police needed to have a way to force individuals to provide driver details, if they were able to do this.
A notice of intended prosecution (known as a NIP, or a S172 notice) is served on a person, either verbally at the time if they are stopped by police, or soon after an alleged offence has been committed, to make them aware that they may be prosecuted.
Receiving a NIP does not mean that you will definitely (or automatically) be prosecuted, but it acts as a warning that this may happen.
Nominating yourself – or another person – as the driver at the time of an alleged offence is not an admission of guilt. If a person is charged, they have the right to defend the charge in the usual way.
The NIP has to be served on the registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days of the offence, otherwise the matter would not be able to proceed at court.
If the driver’s identity is not known, then the NIP is sent to the registered keeper. Whether the NIP is sent to the driver or the registered keeper, as long as the form is sent out within 14 days then it is valid.
If the registered keeper has changed their address, or not informed DVLA about a change of circumstances, etc, then as long as the NIP arrived at the address on record for the registered keeper within 14 days it is still valid. The registered keeper then has a legal obligation to do everything within their power to identify the driver.
The driver may receive further paperwork in due course, but this should not be confused with the NIP, which is legally required to be sent within 14 days.
NIPs can, as mentioned, be issued verbally to the driver at the time of the offence, or, alternatively, you could receive a court summons through the post for the alleged offence within the 14 days.
Small errors on the NIP do not render it invalid, unless such mistakes would mislead the potential defendant.
A NIP shall be deemed to have been served on a person if it was posted to her/him at their last known address, even if the NIP was returned as undelivered, or was for any other reason not received by her/him. The posted NIP is deemed to be served until the contrary is shown.
It is important that the NIP/S172 notice is completed and returned within the 28 day time limit, even if the form arrives outside of its own 14 day time limit. If the boxes on the form do not allow you to give an appropriate response, you should complete the form as far as you can and attach a covering letter before returning it.
If you were not the driver of the vehicle on the date in question, you should name the driver if you can. If there are several possible drivers, you should name them all and give contact details. If you are unable to name the driver, you should explain why (ie detail what checks you have made).
As many of the completed forms appear to go missing in the post, it is best to copy the completed form for your records, and then return by recorded delivery to ensure it is received.
You may then hear nothing more about the alleged offence or receive either a conditional offer of fixed penalty or a summons to court, depending on the nature of the alleged offence and the number of points on your driving licence at the time.
If you do not complete and return the NIP/S172 notice correctly within the 28 day time limit, you face a separate charge of failing to notify driver’s details, which is a 6 penalty point offence with a fine of up to £1,000. For this reason, it is best to seek legal advice before completing a Notice of Intended Prosecution.
Forrest Williams offer a fixed fee service whereby we review your situation and guide you through correct completion of the Notice of Intended Prosecution.
If you have been charged with failing to notify driver’s details, please contact us on 01623 397200 so we can offer you free advice.