Notices of Intended Prosecution & s.172 Notices

The difference between NIPs and s.172 Notices

A notice of intended prosecution issued under s.1 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 is not the same thing as a notice issued pursuant to s.172 Road Traffic Act  1988. Confusion often arises as to whether these are the same thing but they are very different beasts, although they will frequently arrive at your doorstep in the same envelope.  A Notice of Intended Prosecution is a document that the law says (s.1 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988) must be served  on the alleged offender where it is said that certain offences have been committed. These offences, set out in schedule 2 of the RTOA 1988, are speeding, disobeying a sign or direction, careless and dangerous driving, careless and dangerous cycling. The notice must be served within 14 working days of the offence, so the period does not include weekends or bank holidays. They can be served at the last known address by 1st class post, registered post or by hand. There is a legal presumption that the document has been served. To rebut this presumption the defendant must prove that the notice wasn't received on the balance of probabilities. 

It is important to note that where the alleged offence arises out of a road traffic accident, there is no requirement to serve a 'Notice of Intended Prosecution'.

s.172 Notices

A notice served under s.172 Road Traffic Act 1988. This notice, normally served on the registered keeper of a motor vehicle said to have been involved in a road traffic offence is, in effect, a demand for information. The recipient has a legal obligation to provide the details of the driver when the allegeed offence was committed, within 28 days. If on day 29, the notice hasn't been returned, then an offence under s.172(3) may be committed. 

To those that thought that in English law, there was a principle that a person had a right not to incriminate themselves and that this right was also enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights, yes, in theory there is but these arguments have been had on several occasions and the right against self-incrimination has been deemed not to apply.

The prosecution must prove that they sent the notice out to the correct address but they are not required to prove that it was received. If the document wasn't received the defendant must prove this point, again on a balance of probabilities.

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Defences to s.172(3) Offences.

s.172 (4) Provides a defence where it is not possible for the recipient of the notice to provide the details of the person driving at the relevant time. However, it is necessary that it be shown that 'reasonable diligence' be used to determine who the driver was. Where the vehicle is registered to a company, there is a presumption that the company should keep records relating to the driver unless it would be unreasonable to do so. 

In short, it is not enough to simply say, it could have been me or it might have been my husband, you need to show that you have taken steps to find out who the driver was. You can ask for photographs to assist you. There is not an obligation on the police to provide them but keep the evidence that the request was made. 

Reminder or Second Notices

On two occasions recently, one at trial and the other on appeal to the Crown Court, the notices on which the prosecution was based, were not the first notices issued but reminders. The first or original notices had not been received. In both instances, applying the  law as set out in  Krishevsky v DPP [2014] EWHC 1755 (admin) the courts acquitted the defendants. 

DONT DO IT!! Attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice

It is staggering that there are sane and rational people who decide to take a risk and lie in response to the s.172 notice. After the publicity surrounding the Chris Hulne and Vicky Price prosecutions the risks of giving false information should be abundantly clear to all but as I write another such case involving high profile people is in the news. Risking turning a summary only road traffic offence into a very serious indictable only one is never worth the risk. If you are alleged to have done so, you need our expert legal advice.

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