Imagine it. You’re come home from work or a nice day out and there on the mat is a brown envelope. It could be from the taxman or some bill but it’s from the police instead; it might be from your local force or it could be from another one which sounds vaguely familiar from a trip somewhere recently.

It’s a Notice of Intended Prosecution – normally combined with a Section 172 Request for Driver Information. Never a welcome sight!

What do you do?

The first thing to be said is don’t ignore it. Never ignore it! What’s more, deal with it promptly. It’s far better to keep on top of these things and give yourself more latitude if you have any kind of dispute or other issue with the police.

Taking a typical scenario your car has been camera ’d – which sounds awful but sums up the situation perfectly; your car has filled the lens of a camera van somewhere and the police have measurements that show the driver was travelling above the allowed margin in excess of the speed limit. You may not recall the incident, or it may be someone else driving the car that day. The key thing is you’re the registered keeper and it falls to you to respond within 28 days or face the real risk of being prosecuted for failing to provide driver information, and that carries 6 points. I always advise people to respond to the letter even if they genuinely don’t know who the driver was. More often than not it will be easy to determine who was the driver on the day; indeed, you may member seeing the camera with its garish stripy chevrons adorning the back of it as you rounded a long bend on some dual carriageway, perhaps. One day there will be no more vans; we will all be driving vehicles that have computer programs built in that know where all the speed limits are and automatically cut your speed to ensure compliance. It will be very boring, but it will be safe, and it will obviate the need for manned and unmanned speed detection equipment. And if we are not driving a vehicle like that then we will probably be in a driverless (autonomous) vehicle that does all the driving for you.

Anyway, enough of the future!

Fill the form in and give the name of the driver at the time of the incident. Don’t ever feel tempted to come to some agreement with your spouse or partner to take responsibility for the speeding when you were the driver; couples have done that quite often and usually because the spouse has zero or very few points and you have 9 already. This is worse than admitting the speeding you did when you have 9 points. This is perverting the course of justice and is seriously bad; you can expect to be taken to the Crown Court and there’s every chance of a prison sentence. Don’t do it!

If you don’t know who the driver was you need to do your best – your very best – to try and determine who it was. If you still can’t work out who the driver was then write a covering letter and explain why you can’t identify the driver. Be prepared to write in some detail and think ahead; the police may still decide to prosecute you for failing to identify the driver (the 6 points offence mentioned above) and you need to prepare for that possibility. Think how a
court might consider your reply – the more comprehensive the better. If in doubt consult a lawyer at this stage.

Once you’ve responded then, if it was you who was driving, you can expect to receive a follow up letter soon afterwards with an invitation to use the Single Justice Procedure whereby you can plead guilty (or not guilty) by post or online. This will be the subject of a follow up article.

As with anything road traffic wise, if you are unsure of your position a quick call to a specialist lawyer is time well spent. Fell free to call us on 01202 877 400 for any Road Traffic enquiries!

Michael McGhie
Article by Michael McGhie
Michael began his career at one of the leading criminal litigation practices in Bournemouth. Since then he has worked for a number of high profile law firms across the country.

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