S172 Road Traffic Act 1988 sets out a requirement for information to be provided to Police regarding the identity of the driver, alleged to have committed a road traffic offence.
The registered keeper is required to provide details of the driver at the relevant time. S172 (2)(b) requires “any other person” to give any information which it is in his power to give, and which may lead to the identification of the driver.
The most argued defences in respect of this allegation are:
1. It was not reasonably practicable for me to identify the driver;
2. I did not know who the driver was, and exercised reasonable diligence in trying to provide this information; or
3. I did respond to the request for information, but the Police state that it was not received.
The penalty for failing to provide driver information is 6 penalty points plus a financial penalty of up to £1,000. The reason the sentence is so severe is to encourage the registered keeper to nominate the driver, and for the driver to accept the consequences for an offence. If a driver has committed a fairly modest speeding offence, it would be illogical to risk a harsher sentence for failing to nominate themselves.
S172 (7) (b) RTA 1988 states that “the person on whom the notice is served shall not be guilty of an offence under this section if he shows either that he gave the information as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of that period, or that it has not been reasonably practicable for him to give it”
One legitimate argument that would fall under this section would include if a person is away during the 28-day period within which the information is required but provides it as soon as they can upon becoming aware of the request.
The other, most common, argument is that the S172 request was never received.
Clearly, a defendant cannot be expected to respond to a request for driver information if they did not receive it. The Police will provide a witness statement from the member of the team who printed the request and prepared it for posting. The notice is therefore deemed served. The vast majority of notices are sent by first class post, and the presumption of service is therefore “rebuttable” (you can dispute it). That is not the case if the Police send it by signed for or registered post, however it is rare for them to do so.
Be warned that the Police and Courts hear a huge number of these arguments and it is usually not enough to simply say “I didn’t receive it”. It is helpful to be able to demonstrate other examples of postal issues that you might have had and provide witness statements from others with whom you live, to confirm the arrangements regarding opening post and any issues they may have had also.
S172 RTA 1988 states “a person shall not be guilty of an offence under this section if he shows that he did not know and could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained who the driver of the vehicle was”.
To succeed with this defence the defendant must show, on the balance of probabilities (which means more likely than not), that they did not know who the driver was, and that they did their best to try to work out who it was. This would include considering the location, date and time of the offence, checking your diary or bank statements to try to jog your memory, discussing the matter with all other potential drivers and asking them to do the same.
It is advisable that you respond to the request, outlining the difficulties you are experiencing, and providing the details of all potential drivers.
Every year millions of items of post go missing, or are misdelivered by the Royal Mail. If a defendant states that they received the request, completed the form, put it in a stamped addressed envelope and posted it then they should be acquitted. The Court would have to be persuaded, beyond reasonable doubt, that this did not happen. It helps if the defendant is of good character (which means has no previous convictions for dishonesty related offences) and if the original offence to which the notice relates was relatively minor.
If you have been nominated by the registered keeper, the Police will forward a S172 request to you for you to either confirm or deny that you were the driver.
If you are not the registered keeper of the vehicle, then the law simply requires you to provide any information which it is in your power to give, and which might lead to the identification of the driver. In order to be convicted of this offence, the Court would need to find that you had information which would have assisted in identifying the driver, and that you failed to provide this.
At AH Solicitors our motoring expert lawyers specialise in representing defendants in respect of S172 allegations. Our team can give you legal advice regarding how to correctly respond to a request for information, if you have received one. We will also work hard on your behalf to outline to the CPS the basis of your statutory defence and try to persuade them to discontinue the case against you. The CPS are under a duty to only continue with cases where there is a realistic prospect of securing a conviction. If they can be persuaded by written arguments from us that you are likely to be acquitted (found “not guilty”) they will often agree to withdraw the case, meaning that you would not need to attend trial and we can make an application for a Defendants Costs Order, to recover some of the legal fees you have incurred.