If a motoring offence has been committed, failing to tell the police who was driving the vehicle involved is classed as an offence. This could happen, for instance, if your car was in an accident and caught on CCTV but you left the scene. It could also happen if you were captured by a speed camera.
If you have not been pulled over by the police but have committed a motoring offence, the police will send a Notice of Intended Prosecution or NIP to the person who is registered as the owner of the vehicle involved. This needs to be done by the police within 14 days of the incident and the person who receives the NIP then has 28 days to respond.
The law involved in providing driver details can be quite complex. As a guideline, however, failure to provide driver details – in other words who was driving the vehicle at the time of the incident – is a criminal offence and can put 6 points on your licence as well as subject you to a fine of up to £1000.
This could mean that as the registered owner, even if you were not driving at the time of the offence, you will end up with points on your licence and a substantial fine.
The key piece of legislation is the Road Traffic Act 1988 which puts the onus on the registered owner of a vehicle to give the information about who was driving the vehicle. Failure to furnish the information within the 28 days of the NIP could mean that you are summoned to court because you have not provided that driver information.
It’s not just individuals that can be charged. There are potential problems for corporate entities who may have different drivers in vehicles at various times. The Road Traffic Act again puts the onus on the registered owner to maintain proper records so that they know who was driving a vehicle when an offence took place. For example, if one of your sales fleet was caught speeding, you need to have a record who was in control of the car at the time.
There are normally two defences to failure to provide the driver details. The first is that the registered owner has used all the due diligence in their capacity to find out who was driving the car at the time of the offence but have been unable to do so. The second is that there was a practical reason for not responding to the offence within the 28-day period, for example, the NIP was delivered to the wrong address or person (although this does not work if you have failed to update the DVLA with your current address).
Obviously, if you have been served with a NIP and there are issues concerning driver details, or if you have been summoned because of a failure to produce these details, you need to get the right legal advice. A Keith Park Solicitors in St Helens, we have experienced teams in place to help you understand your legal position and how you should proceed. You can contact us today for a free initial consultation.