What is a Notice of Intended Prosecution?
A Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) is a notice issued by the police that informs an individual that they intend to prosecute them for a motoring offence. Under s1 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, a Notice of Intended Prosecution must be issued to the driver or registered keeper of a vehicle identified as having been involved in a motoring offence. Offences for which a notice must ordinarily be served include speeding, contravening a traffic signal (e.g. a red light), careless driving, dangerous driving or using a mobile phone whilst driving.
The purpose of the NIP is to ensure that sufficient notice is given to the registered keeper or the driver of the vehicle that they could be prosecuted whilst events are still fresh in their mind. This process is designed to ensure that the driver is not unfairly prejudiced in the event the matter progresses to Court.
How will I receive the notice?
The NIP can be given verbally by the police at the time of the alleged offence after a vehicle has been stopped. If the vehicle was not stopped at the time it may be served by post on the registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days. If it is served by post it should contain the following details:
- The offence for which prosecution is being considered (e.g. speeding)
- The time & date of offence
- The vehicle alleged to be involved
- The location of alleged offence
Do the police always have to give a Notice of Intended Prosecution?
There are some exceptions to the rule that a notice must be served within 14 days of an alleged offence.
- Under s2 (1) Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, if an accident has occurred this dispenses with the need to serve a notice of intended prosecution as the accident itself is deemed to put the driver on notice that they could be prosecuted.
- Under s2 (3) Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, an exception to the requirement to serve a notice of intended prosecution may apply if the police are unable to trace the registered keeper of the vehicle within sufficient time to serve it within 14 days. For example, if there is no record of the registered keeper on the DVLA database it may not be possible for the police to send the letter out in time
I committed an offence but haven’t received the NIP in the post within 14 days – could I still be prosecuted?
There are a number of reasons why you may not have been issued a notice in the post within 14 days. If you were stopped by the police it may have been given verbally. In the case of speeding offences, the police may issue you with a conditional offer of a fixed penalty of 3 points and £100.00 fine by post or an offer of a speed awareness course. If the offence is considered too serious for a speed awareness course or fixed penalty you may be charged with an offence which normally occurs by way of the issue of a Single Justice Procedure Notice.
If the vehicle within which the alleged offence took place was registered to another person or company there is technically no need for a notice to be issued to the driver. After the police have obtained details of the nominated the driver, they will normally send the notice to them, although there are no time limits within which they must do so (provided that the notice was received within 14 days by the registered keeper of the vehicle). In such circumstances, a person may receive a notice several months after the alleged offence too place but still be prosecuted.
What happens if I don’t respond to a requirement for the identity of a driver?
Failure to respond to a requirement for driver details will normally result in a prosecution for failure to furnish information contrary to s172 Road Traffic Act 1988. This offence carries 6 penalty points on conviction, which is a higher penalty for most offences in relation to which the NIP has been issued. Therefore, it is rarely a good idea to ignore the NIP.
What should I do if I wasn’t driving at the time of the offence detailed on the NIP?
If you are being asked to name the driver, you should provide the details of the person you believe was driving. However, if there was a number of possible drivers you should include in response the names, addresses and dates of birth of them all, explaining why you are not sure who the driver was.
What happens after I have responded to a NIP?
If the police receive an admission from the person to whom the NIP has been issued that they were driving at the time of the offence there are three ways the matter can be progressed:
- Offer of speed awareness course
- Fixed penalty offer of 3 points and £100.00 fine
- Court proceedings by way of Single Justice Procedure (SJPN) or postal requisition
If the offer of a speed awareness course is refused, the driver may accept a fixed penalty if one is available or alternatively they may elect to undergo Court proceedings.
If the recorded speed was too high for a speed awareness course (10 % above the speed limit + 9 mph is the usually applied threshold) then a fixed penalty may be offered. Alternatively the matter may proceed straight to Court. As an example, a speed of 95mph or more in a 70mph zone will generally always result in an SJPN being issued as this is speed too high for either a Speed Awareness Course or offer of a fixed penalty.
What if I do not agree with the details set out in the NIP and I want to defend the allegation?
The fact that you disagree with the allegation does not mean that you are entitled to withhold information in relation to the identity of the driver if it is required. If you admit to being the driver it does not necessarily follow that you accept having committed the offence as the police will still be required to prove all other aspects of the offence. For example, it is possible that you may have been driving but the speed reading being relied upon by the police was not accurate.
In such a situation, if you were driving and wish to challenge the allegation the best course of action will almost certainly be to confirm that you were the driver and to elect for the matter to be subject to Court proceedings.
How we can help
Call us now or complete a contact form on the right-hand side for advice about how to deal with a notice of intended prosecution.
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.
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.
The police normally serve the initial NIP and requirement for identity of the driver on a limited company if it is the registered keeper of the vehicle. If the company fails to respond it cannot be subject to penalty points as only private individuals can have driving licences. However, it may still be charged with failure to furnish information and pay a fine of up to £1,000. The police may also obtain the details of the directors of the company and issue separate documentation on them where the company does not cooperate with its requests for information.
The police normally send the notice to the registered address of the vehicle according to DVLA records. The registered keeper has a separate legal obligation to ensure that this address is kept up to date and the NIP will be considered legally served if sent to the address recorded on the registration certificate (log book) for the vehicle. Therefore, it is not normally a defence to fail to respond to a requirement for driver details if it was served on the old address but not received due to the fact that the vehicle’s registered address was not kept up to date.