Notice Of Intended Prosecution (NIP)
Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) (Section 1, Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988)
For certain road traffic offences, the driver must be given a warning that they face prosecution. This is done by issuing a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP). Common offences requiring a NIP include dangerous driving, careless driving, speeding and disobeying traffic signs and traffic signals. The NIP can be given verbally by the police at the time of the offence, or a formal letter can be sent by post.
Formal Notice of Intended Prosecution
A formal or written NIP is typically issued in speeding and traffic light cases where the offence has been caught on camera and the driver has not been stopped by the police at the time of the offence. Often the only information available to the police is the make and registration number of the vehicle involved. The NIP will therefore be sent to the Registered Keeper of the vehicle. Such a notice will contain details of the offence and a requirement to identify the driver at the time of the offence. A NIP is not required following an accident or where a Fixed Penalty Notice has been given.
What Is Required
The NIP must be served on the registered keeper within 14 days of the offence. Service can be done by first class post, recorded delivery or by hand delivery. A failure to comply with the 14-day time limit is usually fatal to the prosecution case.
The NIP must comply with other requirements which include details of the offence, the date, and the location. It must also be signed and dated.
The NIP only needs to be sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days to satisfy the service requirement. This is significant because the driver at the time of the offence may be someone other than the registered keeper. To ascertain who was driving, several NIPs may be issued. This would arise if the registered keeper identified someone else who, in turn, nominates another person as the driver. This is very common with vehicles that have been borrowed, sold, hired, or leased. The only obligation on the police is to serve the original NIP within 14 days.
Once the identity of the driver has been established the police will then decide on the next course of action.
It will be assumed that the prosecution has complied with all the NIP requirements unless the contrary is proved by the defence. Accordingly, if it is contended that the NIP was sent after the expiry of the 14-day period it will be necessary to satisfy the court to this effect. It is important to note, however, that in some circumstances, even where a NIP is received after 14 days it may still be valid.
Identifying the Driver
If a driver is not stopped at the time of the offence, it is unlikely their identity will be known to the police. For this reason, the NIP will also contain a requirement to identify the person who was driving at the time of the alleged offence. This is also known as the section 172 Requirement.
In short, Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 creates a legal obligation on a person to provide the name and address of the driver at the time of the alleged offence. A period of 28 days is usually given to provide this information. If no response is forthcoming the police can bring a charge against the registered keeper of the vehicle, or any other person, for failing to provide the relevant information.
The terms of a 172 Requirement impose strict duties on people to clearly identify a driver. Individuals who ignore or seek to evade the requirement by claiming that they simply don’t know will find themselves subject to a prosecution. Such a response can be understandable, especially if you are unexpectedly visited by the police about a motoring offence that took place some time ago. In such circumstances you should ask for and be given sufficient time within which to make enquiries about who was driving your vehicle at a particular time.
The penalties for non-compliance of the 172 Requirement are 6 penalty points and a fine of up £1000. The court also has the power to impose a period of disqualification. Even if you were not the driver at the time of the original offence you could still receive 6 penalty points for failing to provide the relevant information to the police. Separate charges for attempting to pervert the course of justice can be raised if you name someone else as the driver when you know they were not.
The law allows a person charged with failing to identify the driver of a vehicle to rely on the statutory defence of reasonable diligence. In short, this means that you have made a real effort and taken all practical steps to find out who was driving. The onus is therefore on you to establish that you do not know and could not, with reasonable diligence, ascertain the identity of the driver. Further defences may be available if you can establish that the Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) was not received by you or that your reply to it was not received by the police. If you have been charged in relation to failing to provide driver details within the Highlands and Islands, contact our office for advice on your options in defending this charge.
If you have been charged in relation a s172 offence within the Highlands and Islands, contact our office for advice on your options in defending this charge.