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Failing to Provide Driver Details – News article by Simon Morton

by | Jan 28, 2019 | General News, Motoring Law | 0 comments

All You Need To Know About Failure To Provide Driver Details Offences.

An increase in the use of technology to detect road traffic violations will see a steady rise in failure to provide driver details cases, with more and more motorists potentially falling fowl of the law.

Often called “failing to furnish”, “failing to provide driver details” or “failing to respond to a request for driver details” – the magistrates’ courts frequently feature cases brought under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

When the police suspect that a road traffic offence has been committed – such as when a car triggers a speed camera – they will send out a “Notice of Intended Prosecution” (NIP) to the registered keeper of the vehicle concerned.

Failure to respond to that NIP or responding inadequately can amount to an offence itself which carries 6 penalty points and up to a £1000 fine. In other words, the penalty for an offence under s.172 can be more than for the originally suspected offence.

Defending a Failure to Provide Details Charge.

At Morton’s Solicitors we have a high degree of success in defending offences brought under this section of the Road Traffic Act.

It is important to seek advise from the moment that documentation is received as not only are there strict time limits, but there may be a defence or a tactical advantage in proceeding in a particular direction. Early advice can be critical to the most favourable outcome.

There are available defences. These are not without potential pitfalls. Seeking advice from Morton’s Solicitors can help you avoid these pitfalls. In broad terms the available defences are: –

• that it was not ‘reasonably practicable’ to supply the information within the 28 days
• that you acted with reasonable diligence to ascertain who was driving at the time of
the incident or offence.

The courts often dislike these cases as there is a perception that a driver is seeking to avoid responsibility for the original offence. The way in which a defence is brought can make all the difference to the likelihood of success.

Notable Failure To Provide Driver Details Cases.

The following notable cases show the sort of areas which need to be navigated in this constantly changing area of law: –

Whiteside v DPP [2011] EWHC 3471 (admin)

Not receiving a notice requesting driver details is not automatically a defence.

Elias LJ said at para 28:

A defendant does not have a defence under section 172(7)(b) Road Traffic Act 1988 merely by virtue of the fact that he has no knowledge that the notices were sent.

In an appropriate case a defendant may be able to show in such circumstances that it was not reasonably practicable for him to have been aware of the notice, in which case the defence will apply.

The defendant was regularly out of the country, he was only at home for approximately 7 days per month, he spent time overseas on business or travel or at his home in Singapore, his post was dealt with by his wife or staff, and if letters could only be dealt with by him personally, they would go to his private secretary.

The magistrates said:

We take into account Mr Whiteside’s personal circumstances. We do not accept the defence put forward by them that Mr Whiteside acted with due diligence and Mr Whiteside should have ensured that systems were in place to deal with receipt of such important documents as these. In addition, the systems that were in place for post opening at his home address whilst he is absent were not effective on these occasions.”

Marshall v DPP [2015] EWHC 2333 (admin)

A case where the magistrates correctly concluded that the defendant did not take reasonable steps to ascertain who had been driving the car.

The High Court gave some guidance as to the type of enquiries that could have been made.

Kenneth Parker J said at para 40:

Mrs Marshall could, for example, have very carefully and conscientiously gone over the chronology and manner of the driving on the night of 5th March 2013. The following questions could have been diligently explored. At what time did she leave 16 Sloane Street, arrive at Nevern Place and return to Sloane Street to leave for Richmond? The distance from Sloane Street westward along the Cromwell Road to Kenway Road and to Nevern Place can be verified to assist in recalling the likely duration of the journey to Nevern Place and back to Sloane Street.

Purnell v DPP [2011] EWHC 934 (admin)

Section 172 Road Traffic Act 1988 does not create a duty on the registered keeper of a vehicle to be available at a registered address to receive communications.

A failure by the registered keeper to be available was a factor which might make it very difficult, if not impossible, to discharge the burden on him of providing a defence under s.172(7)(b) (i.e. it was not reasonably practicable to respond).

Purnell v DPP [2011] EWHC 934 (admin)

Section 172 Road Traffic Act 1988 does not create a duty on the registered keeper of a vehicle to be available at a registered address to receive communications.

A failure by the registered keeper to be available was a factor which might make it very difficult, if not impossible, to discharge the burden on him of providing a defence under s.172(7)(b) (i.e. it was not reasonably practicable to respond).

Foster v DPP [2013] EWHC 2039 (admin)

A defendant cannot be convicted when the date of the charge does not disclose and offence. If the date of commission of an offence under section 172 Road Traffic Act falls within the 28-day period allowed for a response to be made the defendant cannot be convicted.

If a defendant has been convicted in the magistrates’ court of an offence which cannot have been committed there is no power for the Crown Court to amend the charge on appeal.

Atkinson v DPP [2011] EWHC 3363 (admin)

The date when vehicle owner must exercise due diligence is the date that they receive the notice, not the date when the road traffic offence was committed.

R. (on the application of Flegg) v Southampton and New Forest Justices [2006] EWHC 396 (admin)

Providing an inaccurate or misleading response to a requirement to provide driver details does not comply with that requirement.

The defendant had responded to a requirement to provide driver details saying that he did not know who was driving. He sent a letter saying that more than one person had driven the vehicle that day. At trial he said that he could not say whether he or another individual had been driving. The high court said that the defendant’s account could be seen as misleading and inaccurate.

Cornell v Salisbury Crown Court [2007] EWHC 83 (admin)

The duty to give driver information is compatible with the privilege against self-incrimination.

Jones v DPP [2004] EWHC 236 (admin)

When a driver is sent a notice to provide driver details, a reply in a covering letter is permissible provided it supplies all of the required information in a written form.

Francis v DPP [2004] EWHC 591 (admin)

The response to a notice requiring driver details must be signed. It is not a valid response without a signature.

Krishevsky v DPP [2014] EWHC 1755 (admin)

A defendant can never be convicted on the basis of a reminder about a requirement to provide driver details. The conviction could only be on the basis of the original requirement.

If a court concludes that a defendant did not receive a notice requiring him to provide driver details there can never be a conviction. The presumption of proper service has been rebutted.

Weightman v DPP [2007] EWHC 634 (admin)

Judicial review of magistrates’ decision successful. The court were not reasonable when they did not address the defence that the defendant had put forward in their reasons.

R v Grant [2001] EWHC 1114 (Admin)

When a person who is not the keeper of a vehicle is prosecuted under s.172(2)(b) Road Traffic Act 1988 the prosecution has to prove that that person has information which is in his power to give.

Any person has power to give to information “I do not know about that vehicle or who was driving it on that particular day.” So, if there is no reply to the notice then the prosecution only has to prove that the notice was sent to the person in question. If that person replies saying that they do not know who was driving then further evidence would have to be adduced by the crown to prove what information was in their power to give.

Mohindra v DPP [2004] EWHC 490 (admin)

Where the defendant is the keeper of the vehicle or the defendant remains silent as to whether he is the keeper, the Crown simply had to prove a failure to respond.

Where the defendant asserts that he is not the keeper of the vehicle the Crown also have to prove that there was information in his power to give and that there was a failure to respond.

R. (Taylor) v Southampton Magistrates’ Court [2008] EWHC 3006 (admin)

It was reasonable for a district judge to allow a prosecution application to adjourn so that they could address a “highly technical point” about a notice of intended prosecution. The prosecutor was allowed the adjournment to provide additional evidence to prove service of the notice of intended prosecution.

Lynes v DPP [2012] EWHC 1300 (admin)

It is possible to serve a single notice requiring two persons to provide driver details if they both live at the same address.

Hall v DPP [2013] EWHC 2544 (admin)

A notice of intended prosecution was deemed to have been served unless and until the contrary is proved. There is no obligation for the Crown to prove service.

As the requirement to provide driver details under section 172 Road Traffic Act was contained in the notice of intended prosecution there is no need for the prosecution to prove service of the notice requiring driver details.

Duff v DPP [2009] EWHC 675 (admin)

The defendant (D)’s wife was registered keeper of a vehicle. A request for driver information under s.172 Road Traffic Act 1988 was sent to D’s wife. D signed and returned the notice naming himself.

The police sent another request to D. He did not respond having taken legal advice. His defence that he had already responded to the notice was rejected. He had not responded to the notice sent to him, his response the notice sent to his wife was not a valid response.

DPP v Broomfield [2002] EWHC 1962 (admin)

Responding to a notice to require driver details via a telephone call is not a valid response.

DPP v Leigh [2010] EWHC 345 (admin)

Evidence of the absence of an entry in a police record of responses to requests for driver details was not hearsay.

Arnold v DPP [1999] RTR 1997

A printed signature of the authorised person acting on behalf of the Chief Constable is adequate in a notice pursuant to section 172 Road Traffic Act 1988.

R. (on the application of Monkton) v Carlisle Crown Court [2015] EWHC 304 (admin)

When considering an application for a defendant’s costs order the court should not consider whether there is a public interest in bringing proceedings. The proper test is whether the defendant brought proceedings upon themselves.


How We Can Help

We can advise you throughout this process and give you the best possible chance of succeeding with any defence.

Do not hesitate to contact us for bespoke professional service. One size does not fit all!

Simon Morton, Specialist Road Traffic Solicitor.


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