Failing to Identify Driver / Supply Information

There are 2 common scenarios when a driver's identity must be supplied:

Firstly, following an accident if injury is caused to another person or damage, however slight, to another party's property. In such circumstances, the driver must supply his name and address and the details of the owner of the vehicle, if different.

The most common requirement is upon receipt of a Notice of Intended Prosecution. Details of the driver of a vehicle must be supplied when requested by the Police pursuant to Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The registered keeper of a vehicle will receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution when the driver was not formally warned of potential prosecution at the time of the allegation. Typically, this will be for any offence supported by photographic evidence, such as speed camera/traffic signal contraventions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is obliged to identify the driver?

In accordance with Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the "person keeping the vehicle" is obliged to supply the identity of the driver or any other person can be asked to give information if it is "in his power to give and may lead to the identification of the driver". In reality, a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) will normally be served on the registered keeper whose details are supplied by the DVLA. If the keeper then identifies another person as either the driver or having the information to supply the driver's identity, that obligation can be passed to that individual.

What information has to be supplied?

The Respondent has to supply the identity of the driver, specifically their name and address, to the best of their knowledge and belief. For example, if the registered keeper is a hire company, they are obliged to tell the Police who was hiring the vehicle at the time of the offence.

What if I don't know who was driving at the time of the offence alleged in the Notice of Intended Prosecution?

Your legal obligation is to identify the driver, the assumption being that you know who was driving the vehicle at all times. If you cannot be sure, then the Police have the option to prosecute for failing to identify the driver. If there is a genuine reason why you cannot provide this information (and you may have an entirely justifiable explanation), then you should advise the Police accordingly.

If there has been no attempt on your part to with–hold information deliberately or negligently, you may have a defence. However, such circumstances are rare as you are required to make reasonable and diligent enquiries regarding identification so if you cannot do so, it would be prudent to seek legal advice before returning the Notice of Intended Prosecution. If you require assistance at this stage, please use our Summary Telephone Advice Service. If you are still unable to provide information to the Police, you should expect to end up in Court as the Police are now very likely to prosecute for failing to identify the driver. Whilst the Police will infer that there is no justified defence, the Courts have not always agreed. Each case will hinge on the efforts made to identify. For example, before, declaring that you cannot identify the driver, ask to see the Police photos, which whilst used by the prosecution to identify the vehicle only, may actually assist you in identifying the driver.

What is the maximum penalty for failing to identify the driver at the time of the alleged offence?

You are required to identify the driver of the vehicle. You must do this within 28 days and if you fail to do so, you have committed a separate offence for which your licence can be endorsed with 6 penalty points and a fine up of £1,000.

If I am not sure who was driving, what further information can I request from the Police?

Although the obligation is upon the recipient of the Notice to supply information, there may be some circumstances, for example when a drive has been shared, which result in it being difficult to specify who was driving at the time. Although there is no obligation upon the Police to supply the photograph, they will normally do so. That said, the photograph only has to show the vehicle, not the occupants. All the Police have to supply is adequate information to identify the offence itself, i.e. time, location, vehicle registration and the alleged contravention.

Are the obligations on a company any different to that of an individual Keeper?

Yes. The Company is required to keep accurate records of who was driving the vehicle on any given day. For all intents and purposes, the Court will expect an on going log to be maintained detailing the identity of all users of the vehicle at any specific time. Failure to be able to supply this information will probably result in conviction. It is not a defence to say that it is a "pool" car and that anybody could have been driving it at the time, unless you have an exceptional case.

My friend was driving, can I simply pass the Notice on to them to deal with?

No. It is the addressee's obligation to respond. Passing the document to somebody else does not amount to a satisfactory response and could result in prosecution for failing to supply information.

I genuinely have no idea who was driving, am I automatically guilty of the offence?

No. Your obligation is to take reasonable steps to identify the driver. If you have made such enquiries but still cannot be certain who was driving the vehicle, it is safer to say this rather than make a false declaration. Although the Police may well prosecute for failing to identify/supply information, if the Court accepts that you have behaved reasonably and have made a genuine effort to identify the driver, this may amount to a satisfactory defence. Motor Lawyers can clarify exactly how to prepare a successful defence in those circumstances.

It will take me some time to find out who was the driver at the time of the offence, is there is a time limit?

Yes. Your obligation is to confirm the identity within 28 days. If you cannot provide information within this period of time, tell the Police that you need more time and explain why.

The offence relates to a car that I might have hired weeks ago, what if I cannot remember now?

You still have an obligation to establish whether or not you were driving. Stating that you "cannot remember" is unlikely to be regarded as making satisfactory enquiries.

Can I tell the Police that it was one of several drivers, can I give details of all of them?

This is not a satisfactory response. Your obligation is to confirm who was driving, not who could have been driving. If you are unable to identify one driver, unless you can prove that you have made diligent enquiries, you have committed the offence regardless of how many potential drivers you name.

Where can I find further information about a Notice of Intended Prosecution?

Please refer to our Notice of Intended Prosecution page.