Motoring offences: drivers need to keep up to speed on the rules of the road

27th April 2023

Police caught Danish retail tycoon Anders Holch Povlsen, the so-called ‘ASOS billionaire’ speeding in the Highlands and fined him £100.According to reports, the businessman was driving 82mph in a 60mph zone and handed three points on his licence as well as the fine.

Breaking any speed limit (including temporary speed limits) is an offence, and it is the driver’s responsibility to be aware of the law.

Corey Evans, Legal Adviser at DAS Law explains what drivers need to know.

What are the rules surrounding the Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP)?

The registered keeper of the vehicle will receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) with a Section 172 Driver Information Form, which requires the register keeper to inform the police who was driving at the time of the alleged offence.

This Notice should be served upon the registered keeper within 14 days of the date the offence took place. Should the registered keep fail to respond (either at all or in full) the police will be able to serve the same paperwork on any other parties they suspect to be linked to the vehicle outside of the 14 day timeframe as long as they have served on the registered keeper within the first 14 days.

This Notice must be completed by the person named on the form and must be returned to the police within 28 days of the date on the Notice.

If I complete the Section 172 Form am I accepting that I am guilty?

A common misunderstanding is that by completing the paperwork amounts to an admission of guilt.  Completing the Section 172 Form does not mean you are accepting you are guilty. You are simply advising who the driver was at the time of an alleged offence.

What is the penalty for failing to provide details of the driver?

The penalty for failing to provide driver details under Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act is six points on your licence and a fine up to £1,000. In some cases, you may be disqualified from driving for a discretionary period of time.

Where a vehicle has multiple drivers or users, the court will expect the registered keeper to maintain sufficient driver records and to be able to provide the driver details upon request.

Are there any defences for failing to provide driver details?

There are two statutory defences under Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act. 

The registered keeper at the time of an offence can raise a reasonable diligence argument if the registered keeper can show reasonable diligence was used to ascertain who the driver was at the time of the offence. The burden will be on the registered keeper to show reasonable diligence was exercised, what is reasonable will depend upon the exact circumstances of the defence. In essence, the onus is on the registered keeper to demonstrate why they have been unable to identify the driver.

The second statutory defence is that it was not reasonably practicable to identify the driver and supply the information within the 28 days allowed, such as being out of the country for the full 28 days.

Both defences would need to be put before the court and each case is decided on a case-by-case basis. It is therefore advisable to obtain specialist advice to assess how successful your argument will likely be. 

Can I have an offence dismissed if the paperwork was delivered ‘late’?

Under the Road Traffic Act 1998, the first Notice has to be served upon to the registered keeper within 14 days of the offence. If you are the registered keeper and the notice it is received more than 14 days after the offence took place, then you should write to the relevant police force explaining these circumstances as soon as possible requesting the matter is reviewed.  

There is a legal basis which police forces act upon where the notice is legally “deemed served” within two working days of the date it was printed. If a defence of late service is raised by the recipient, the burden of proof is on the recipient of the paperwork to prove this was the case if the notice was printed within suitable time for it to be served correctly.  

If you are not the registered keeper of the vehicle and you receive the Notice past the 14 day threshold, you should check to see if they sent it to the registered keeper within the acceptable time period. If it has been sent correctly, then it will not be classed as late and you will be obliged to complete and return the paperwork.

How do I challenge a fine/endorsement?

It is very difficult to challenge a speeding fine as there are practically no defences to why a person was driving over the speed limit.

Challenging the evidence of the camera itself can be also tricky as unless you have evidence that the camera is faulty, then it is unlikely that you will be able to challenge your speeding fine successfully. Making this type of challenge can also result in the police force employing expert witnesses to prove the camera was functioning correctly, and if you are found guilty the costs associated can be significant.

If you have been offered an awareness course, this is discretionary and an alternative to receiving a fixed penalty / having to attend court. Should you not accept the awareness course, you will waive your right to sit the course at a later date and if found guilty will receive points on your licence and a fine.

You may be able to challenge the Notice if important elements are incorrect e.g. the date, time, location etc. However, spelling mistakes or minor mistakes like the colour of a vehicle etc are unlikely to be accepted as a valid defence.

Should I use a lawyer/barrister to handle my case or can I do it myself?

Whether you choose or need a lawyer will depend on the circumstances. Most offences do not go to court and are dealt with by way of an advisory notice, an awareness course, or a fixed penalty. If you accept the offer of a course or a fixed penalty and comply with the outcome, you will not need a lawyer in these instances.

If however, you are facing a court summons it would be advisable to use a lawyer to support you in challenging the level of fine/endorsement or putting forward your case as to why you should not receive a driving ban. Examples of why matters are referred to court include:

  • You already have 6-9 points on your licence and the penalty for which you have been charged would result in you obtaining 12 penalty points, at this point you are at risk of being disqualified.
  • If you fail to comply with the offer of an awareness course/fixed penalty the matter can be referred to court. A lawyer will be best placed to argue any mitigating factors in your case to ensure you receive the best outcome.
Need more help?

DAS UK customers have access to templates and guides on Whether you want to challenge an employment decision, apply for flexible working rights, contest a parking ticket or create a will, DAS Householdlaw can help.

You can access DAS Householdlaw by using the voucher code in your policy provider’s documentation.

Visit DAS Householdlaw

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.

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