What is a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP)?
Sometimes a letter will be received through the letterbox from the Police in the form of a Notice of Intended Prosecution. This may be entirely unexpected. What steps need to be taken to deal with this?
What is a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP)?
A Notice of Intended Prosecution (otherwise sometimes known as Section 1 Warning) is issued to the registered keeper of a vehicle involved in an alleged offence and has to specify:
- the vehicle alleged to be involved
- the nature of the alleged offence
- date and time the alleged offence happened
- the place the alleged offence happened.
How long do I have to receive a NIP?
A NIP has to be served on the registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days of the detection of the alleged offence unless the police at the time of the alleged offence warned the driver they might be prosecuted, in which case this notice is not necessary. Service by first-class post is acceptable and is a normal method used by the Police.
It must be remembered that the registered keeper of the vehicle may not be the person who has it in their possession, such as where the car is a lease or hire vehicle and is registered with the lease company. In this case, the NIP would be sent to the company (the registered keeper) who would then, in turn, identify the individual who had possession of the vehicle.
What offences can I receive a NIP for?
There are numerous offences for which a NIP may be issued, but they will typically relate to the following common ones:
- dangerous driving
- careless and inconsiderate driving
- failing to stop after an accident and/or to report an accident
- mobile phone offences and other vehicle offences, e.g. brakes, tyres etc.
How long do I have to give my information after receiving a NIP?
You have 28 days from receiving the NIP to provide the name and address of who was driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence or to provide any information in your power to give which may lead to the identification of the driver.
The requested information has to be provided, even if you disagree with the allegation.
It is an offence of itself not to comply with the NIP, and if you fail to provide the requested information, you will be liable under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This carries six penalty points and a maximum £1,000 fine on conviction. The penalty points were increased from three points to six points many years ago to address deliberate failures to provide driver information.
A failure by a limited company to comply with the NIP can lead to prosecution, though, of course, it has no licence that can be endorsed with penalty points. However, proceedings can be brought against a director, manager or other relevant persons for connivance or neglect in providing the information for which they can be fined.
If a person is unable to provide the necessary information, there is a defence: this is if they can show they did not know or could not, with due diligence, establish who the driver was. But, this defence is not as generous to limited companies – they must not only establish the same things, but in addition show it was reasonable not to have a record of who was driving the vehicle, i.e. a log of drivers of company vehicles should be maintained unless it can be shown it is unreasonable to do so.
What happens once you have responded to a NIP?
Once you have responded to the NIP, the driver who has been identified will be written to by the police, asking them to confirm they were driving at the relevant time. There is no 14-day limit here, as that only applies with regard to the registered keeper. However, the driver will have to comply within 28 days – or they risk prosecution for a failure to provide information.
The matter will then progress in one of three ways:
- court proceedings, probably by way of Single Justice Procedure Notice (SJPN)
- offer of a speed awareness course if the driver is eligible
- fixed penalty offer if the driver is eligible (e.g. three points and £100 fine for speeding).
However, if satisfactory information is not provided by the registered keeper, then they may be prosecuted for a failure to provide the information.
What do I do if I disagree with the alleged offence?
Once a driver has been identified, they can decide if they accept they are guilty of the offence or not. If they wish to contest the case, then they will enter a Not Guilty plea in the court case and the matter will go to trial.
Other points to consider
Ensure the address on any vehicle registration documentation is kept up-to-date. Otherwise, the NIP will be sent to your old address as a result of failure to update the DVLA of your change of address. In turn, court proceedings may be started (leading to conviction) without your knowledge.
It is seldom the case that it is truly not possible, with due diligence, to establish who was driving a given vehicle at a particular time. There are lots of ways of piecing together who was driving. And it is a very serious matter to provide false information to the police or false evidence in court. This may amount to an attempt to pervert the course of justice and/or perjury, leading to a penalty likely far worse than that for the road traffic offences being investigated.
If you have obtained your driving licence within the last two years and receive six or more penalty points for an offence within this time, then your licence will be revoked by DVLA. This means a single offence committed by a new driver for failure to provide driver information would lead to the loss of the licence.
Contact our road transport solicitors today
If you have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution, our regulatory and transport law solicitors are here to help you with the investigation. Please contact us using our online enquiry form or by calling 0330 404 7949.
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