Request for driver details
Section 172 Notice
Unless the driver is stopped and indentified at the road side, the prosecutor must take steps to identify the driver. This is usually done by a request for driver details served pursuant to Section 172(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (known as a Section 172 Notice).
The law requires the registered keeper of the vehicle to give whatever information about the identity of the driver the Chief Officer of Police asks for. It is accordingly common in speed camera cases for the prosecutor to send out both a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) and a Section 172 Notice in order to firstly comply with the requirement to serve a NIP within 14 days and secondly to seek details of the driver.
If you receive an NIP and you were both the registered keeper and the driver of the vehicle, all you have to do to comply with the law is confirm this and return the notice within 14 days.
If you were the registered keeper and not the driver, for example, if the keeper is a limited company, or if the vehicle was being driven by a family member or business partner, then you must say so when you return the notice.
The true driver will then receive their own NIP. If the second NIP is received outside the 14 day period it will be valid as long as the first one to the registered keeper was served within 14 days.
If despite using reasonable diligence you cannot identify the driver, you can defend an allegation of failing to provide driver details. This is not as straightforward as it may seem because the Court will require evidence of the efforts made and will be concerned to make sure that the defence is not just being abused to attempt to escape responsibility.
I have successfully defended such allegations when the Court heard credible evidence that it was impossible to identify the driver of a business vehicle to which a number of employees had access and none of whom would own up despite being individually written to. In that case the Court accepted that the company secretary had done as much as anyone could have to try and identify the driver.
It is also essential to check the form of request because it must be made by or on behalf of the Chief Officer of Police and that should be clear from its content.
Since September 2007 you will get 6 penalty points endorsed on your licence if you fail to provide the driver's details. The courts also have discretion to disqualify you from driving.