Receiving anything with a police post mark on it through your letterbox is likely to cause concern and worry for most people. An NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) may be issued in the post by the police in relation to any road traffic offence. It is most commonly issued in relation to speeding offences and the allegation of failure to comply with traffic signals such as red lights.
An NIP will normally be accompanied by a requirement for information as to the identity of the driver under s172 Road Traffic Act 1988. These are normally issued where the police have been unable to identify the driver at the time such as if the offence has been detected by a fixed camera or by a manned device accompanied by video evidence. The law provides that where the registered keeper of a vehicle is sent a requirement for information they must provide the identity of the driver or alternatively give all the information which was in their power to give relating to the identity of the driver. The recent high profile case involving politician Chris Huhne highlights that the manner in which such correspondence is dealt with can have far reaching consequences.
Do’s and Dont’s
Failure to identify the driver will normally result in prosecution. We specialise in successfully defending prosecutions of this nature but the manner in which correspondence is handled at an early stage can be extremely important as it will be relied upon in Court. Here is a list of do’s and dont’s when it comes to requirements for information issued by the police:-
We advise you to:-
· Request the photographs of the alleged offence if you are unsure who the driver was in the case of forward facing devices they may assist you;
· Complete and sign the form at the appropriate section whether you were driving or not;
· Respond within 28 days of the date of receiving the letter from the police;
· Take legal advice on receipt of the letter if you are unsure who the driver was at the time of the alleged offence;
· If you do not know who the driver was then make whatever enquiries you can to establish who it was eg. ask all potential drivers if they were driving, inspect any diaries, bank statements or maps of the area if the driving was being shared at the time;
· If having made enquiries you are still unsure who the driver was then write to the police explaining the situation, the nature of the enquiries made and providing names and addresses for all those people who could potentially have been driving
We advise you not to:-
· Send template letters taken from the internet – they have been prepared by unqualified people, the police are used to receiving them and they do not work;
· Become involved in correspondence relating to whether the offence was committed or not the police are at this stage simply requesting that you identify the driver;
· Make requests for disclosure (eg. calibration certificates or training records) other than the photographs to assist you in identifying the driver this will not prevent you from being prosecuted
Speed awareness courses
In the case of a speeding offence, if a person admits to being the driver and the speed alleged is no more than 10 % + 9mph over the speed limit a speed awareness course will normally be offered. The driver will be eligible provided that they have not attended a similar course in the previous three year period from the date of the offence. If the driver is ineligible to attend a course, a fixed penalty of 3 points and a £60 fine may be offered if the speed is no more than 20mph over the speed limit or 25mph over the limit in the case of 70mph limits. If you do not accept the allegation then we can help you decide whether it will be worthwhile for you to take the matter to a Court hearing. If the speed is considered too high for a fixed penalty or speed awareness course then a Court summons will be issued at which time we will be available to discuss your options with you.
For further assistance, visit our NIP advice centre or call us free on 0800 4334 678.