Failing to Identify Driver / Provide Information

What is the law on identifying a driver?

The registered keeper of the vehicle or any other person shall, if required, give information as to the identity of the driver within 28 days of a request for same.

Section 172 (2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988

Any person who has, or has believed to have information, concerning the driver's identity, is required to supply same within 28 days upon request by the Police.

The allegation normally arises when a Notice of Intended Prosecution is served and the Police do not receive a response or the recipient says they do not know who was driving.

If I cannot remember who was driving, should I plead not guilty?

There is a potential defence to failing to identify if you can satisfy a Court that it has been impossible to establish the driver's identity, despite completing all reasonable and diligent enquiries. The critical issue is what is reasonable and diligent and why those enquiries did not establish who was driving. If you seek advice now, we can clarify the prospects of success, as the standards applied by the Court are high. The "I cannot remember" defence is unlikely to succeed without evidence of the steps taken to investigate the driver's identity.

What if I did not receive the Notice of Intended Prosecution?

If you did not receive the Notice of Intended Prosecution, you clearly cannot identify within the time limit imposed. If you accept that you were the driver and admit the offence for which the Notice of Intended Prosecution was issued, you may be able to agree a compromise with the Police, resulting in a lower penalty, if you are reluctant to go to Court. If you are willing to attend a hearing and can satisfy the Court that the Notice did not arrive, you may well have a full and valid defence. In either case, you should seek advice as there is a "presumption of service" and it will be for you to demonstrate that the Notice did not arrive. In our experience, the Police are notoriously reluctant to accept the documents are not received by motorists.

What is the penalty for failing to provide driver information?

The normal penalty for failing to provide driver information is 6 points, plus a fine ranging from £300 to £1,000.

Can I reduce the penalty points?

Whilst 6 penalty points are set for this offence, it may be possible to obtain a better outcome, depending on your circumstances. For example:

  • You are being charged only with failing to identify and no other offence

    If you admit that you were the driver at the time of the offence that triggered the Notice of Intended prosecution, but simply failed to identify within 28 days, subject to the original offence, you may be able to reduce the penalty points by persuading the Police / Court to reinstate the original allegation and accepting a guilty plea to that offence. This is a complicated process, so you should seek advice if it is an option you wish to pursue.

  • You are being charged with failing to identify and another offence

    If the Single Justice Procedure lists the allegation of failing to identify and another offence, (e.g. speeding) you may be able to reduce the number of penalty points by pleading guilty to the other offence, if you can persuade the Court / Police to withdraw the failing to identify allegation. With the correct approach this should be achieved, however, it is important you seek advice as with the incorrect mitigation, there is a risk the Court can still find you guilty of failing to identify or request your attendance at Court.