Guide to motorists – what to do when you receive a police request for driver details.

Guide to motorists – what to do when you receive a police request for driver details.

Around 35 million vehicles are licensed for use on the roads in Great Britain with four people every minute being caught for speeding offences.

If you are the registered keeper of a vehicle caught exceeding the speed limit, you can expect to receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution accompanied with a section 172 form requiring you to identify who the driver of the vehicle was at the time of the offence.

Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988

The law in England and Wales requires the registered keeper to complete the driver details form and return it within 28 days. The form must be completed and signed by the recipient and not be someone else on their behalf. Failure to comply with the legal requirements of this section is an offence in itself, which carries a fine and six penalty points.

A common argument put forward as a legal defence to this charge is that the form was completed and sent (i.e. put into a post-box) but lost within the postal system.

It is always advisable that when sending a response to the police to retain proof of postage. The best methods are:

  • Signed for postage
  • Tracked mail
  • Recorded delivery

Alternatively, a variation on this defence is sometimes argued where the defendant has completed the form but gave it to someone else to post. The Courts have accepted that putting the notice in the outgoing post is sufficient as you would typically expect the letter to arrive at its intended destination. However, the High Court has recently said that where this involves a third party posting the form, this will not be enough to escape a conviction.

Phiri v Director of Public Prosecutions

This case concerned an employee who had left the completed notice in the outgoing tray of their company’s post room, expecting it to be posted.

Citing Section 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978, the Court effectively held that you cannot rely on a third party to transfer the completed form from your hand to the post box. However, you can rely on the postal company to ensure the notice goes from the post box to the relevant police station.

28 day limit and mitigating circumstances

You are given 28 days from the date of the notice to complete and return the form. You are also given the option to respond with additional information in the body of the accompanying form or sometimes in the form of an attached questionnaire. In certain circumstances, these responses can alter the way in which the police deal with a case and can be used in evidence in Court proceedings should you be charged.

It is therefore very important to speak to a lawyer straight away to assess the best option before responding to the police.

Speak to us today

If you have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP), Section 172 request for driver details, or have been contacted in any other way by the police in relation to a motoring offence, contact our specialist Road Traffic Offences team here.