Failing to identify driver Offence

Failing to respond to a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) or not failing the identify a driver can result in a driving ban or 6 points on your licence, if you already have 6 existing points it can mean losing your licence and being banned from driving.

As expert motoring barristers with over a decade of experience in defending motoring charges at all levels we take a novel approach to defending these case which has involved:

  • Writing to the CPS /Traffic Justice Unit to have the failing to provide charge discontinued and negotiate alternative charges such as speeding where there has been a delay in providing the information.
  • Expert representation in court by a specialist motoring barrister.
  • Preparing mitigation or extenuating circumstances arguments or submissions.

The Offence: A Section 172 Notice

s.172 of Road Traffic Act 1988 states that the keeper of the vehicle is required by law to provide:

“ such information as to the identity of the driver as he may be required to give by or on behalf of a chief officer of police, and

(b) any other person shall if required as stated above give any information which it is in his power to give and may lead to identification of the driver.

What does this mean?

It means that the keeper of the vehicle, when he or she is sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) by the relevant traffic unit of the police you are obliged under the law to provide the details of who was driving at a particular place at a particular time when a motoring offence (usually speeding) is said to have occurred.

Failing to provide the information is an offence and the consequences can be more severe than the original offence, such as speeding. Contravening s.172 can result in a driving disqualification (driving ban) or the license endorsed with six penalty points. It also attracts a fine up to level 3 on the standard scale.

Case study

Successful appeal and failing to notify the identity of the driver. Client acquitted and defence costs awarded.

Our client was charged with failing to provide the identity of the driver by failing to respond to the notice and two further reminders. Our client maintained that he never received a summons, however he was convicted in his absence and then discovered from a debt collection agency that the magistrates court had not only convicted him in absence but were seeking a recovery costs using bailiffs.

He applied to have the case reopened, which it was it was relisted for trial. He instructed a so-called specialist motoring solicitor, who completely missed the point that there was no evidence that the “information had been laid” (this means that summons had not been lodged with the court within six months (a mandatory requirement).

One of our expert motoring barristers, represented him at Snaresbrook Crown Court on appeal, and prepared the case by notifying both the traffic road traffic unit and the Waltham Forest Magistrates Court that a copy of the original summons was required.

The Crown Prosecution Service failed to comply with an earlier direction to supply to our defence team with a copy and as a result the case was dismissed.

Our client was granted a defence costs order for his legal costs and we advised him that he should put the separate claim against these so-called specialist motoring solictors for not having picked up on a very basic and elementary defence in failing to provide the identity of the driver offences.

Our meticulous attention to detail and hard work, even in a straightforward case can yield considerable results. Our client who is a diagnostic mechanical engineer got to keep his license he also was responsible for the care of an elderly relative who is disabled who lived with.

Motoring barrister or solicitor? You decide, we are experienced barristers with over 12 years experience in these cases and can help you with your case today.

Other Defences

Many motorists are unaware that they may have a perfectly legitimate and lawful defence. Many companies who employ drivers, fleet operators or SME’s may find themselves on the wrong side of the law not knowing who was driving at the relevant time:

  • It is a defence to the charge if the keeper of the vehicle “that he did not know and could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained who the driver of the vehicle was.” If the keeper does not know who the driver was, the onus is on him to show that he did not know, and could not with “reasonable diligence” establish the identity of the driver.
  • It must be proved that the document requiring information as to the identity of the driver was sent on behalf of a chief officer of police. (However there is no requirement that the document to be signed on his or her behalf, provided the document’s authenticity is established by the prosecution).
  • It must be proved whether the person who was send the request was the keeper of the vehicle or ‘any other person’
  • The obligation on the keeper to provide information requested in the form is mandatory. However, responding in writing, even if not on official form, but providing all the information required and then signing the letter can amount to a defence.

The following scenario do not amount to a defence:

  • A response by the driver to an earlier request which was sent to a different person as the registered keeper will not provide a defence to failing to respond if a subsequent notice is sent directly to the defendant as he was the driver.
  • If the form contains all the necessary information but is not signed, then it is still invalid.
  • Where the keeper’s states that he was not the driver and knew that only one other person had access to the vehicle, then the court can draw a clear inference that the other person was the driver at the time in question. In those circumstances the defendant is obliged to disclose this.

I was unaware of the summons being sent to my address and I was later convicted by the magistrates court in my absence and without my knowledge, can you still help?

Yes. We have experience of re-opening proceedings when someone was unaware of the summons being sent to their former address, resulting in the conviction being quashed, the matter being re-opened, a not guilty plea being entered and then contested at trial.

I don’t want to attend court but want the best result I can get, can you still help?

Yes, we have assisted many motorists in completing paper based mitigation in circumstances where a full explanation and mitigation addressing the relevant areas of the law, the reasons for the offence and facts specific to the person charged.

To speak to an specialist motoring barrister for advice and an appraisal of your case call now on 0208 123 9999 or email

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