A notice of intended prosecution (NIP) must be issued by the police within 14 days of a motoring offence subject to certain exceptions.
This is because the police are required by law to issue a warning that prosecution may follow in the case of certain offences.
If a driver is stopped it will normally be issued verbally soon after the offence. If the driver is not stopped at the time (eg fixed camera offences) the police will normally send out a notice to the registered keeper of the vehicle.
In relation to most offences, the notice must arrive at the address of the registered keeper within 14 days of the alleged offence. There are certain exceptions to this rule for example where an accident has occurred or where the address of the registered keeper is not available.
What should the notice contain?
A notice of intended prosecution issued by post must identify the time, date, place and nature of the offence. It will normally be accompanied with a requirement to provide the details of the driver of the vehicle. The requirement is to provide those details within 28 days. If the requirement to provide this information is not complied with, a summons may be issued for failure to furnish information contrary to section 172 Road Traffic Act 1988.
What if I received the notice after 14 days since the offence?
Often there will be a valid reason why the notice is received outside the 14 day period since the offence. If the vehicle is registered elsewhere, such as with a leasing, hire purchase company or employer, it will be sent there first before being directed to the nominated driver. There are also exceptions to the 14 day rule in relation to certain offences and if an accident has occurred. Sometimes there is no legitimate reason for a notice being late and this can be used as a defence. Note that, even if you suspect the notice is late, you are still required to respond to a requirement for driver details if this is sent with the notice of intended prosecution.
What if I don’t know who the driver was?
If you receive a requirement for information and do not know who the driver was at the time of the alleged offence, it is essential that you take advice from a specialist motoring solicitor. We always advise that you should do everything you can to identify the driver and provide all the information to the police that you have (including names and addresses of potential drivers).
Any action taken at this delicate stage is essential to your chances of avoiding or minimising penalty points in the future. It is not always appreciated by motorists that any correspondence sent to the police can be used in evidence in future court proceedings.
I wasn’t driving – what should I do?
If you were not the driver at the time of the alleged offence but you know who was, you are required to provide the name and address of the driver to the police. If you do so, the person you nominated will then be sent a similar requirement for information, and unless the police think you are deliberately misleading them, you will not be prosecuted.
I was driving – what happens next?
If you respond to the requirement issued by the police by admitting to being the driver of the vehicle, one of three things are likely to occur. In the case of speeding or careless driving offences you may be offered the chance to attend a driver improvement course. You may also be offered a fixed penalty. In the case of a speeding offence the fixed penalty will be for 3 penalty points and a fine of £100. If the police decide that a driver improvement course or fixed penalty is inappropriate (for example the speed alleged is too high to be offered 3 points) you may be summonsed to Court for the offence.
Call us now or complete a contact form below for advice about how to deal with a notice of intended prosecution and requirement to provide information.