What Is The Time Limit for A Notice of Intended Prosecution?

What Is The Time Limit for A Notice of Intended Prosecution? from 1st Road Traffic Law Specialists Scotland

By: 1st Road Traffic Law Specialists Scotland  14/01/2009
Keywords: speed cameras, Notice Of Intended Prosecution, Dangerous Driving In Scotland

NIP orNotice of Intended Prosecution

What is it, what it means, how it affects you?

Offences requiring notification of prosecution.

Under Section 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 there are various road traffic offences which require the police to give you notice of the fact that you may be prosecuted. These offences include:

Careless & Inconsiderate driving

Leaving a vehicle in a dangerous place

Dangerous cycling

Careless & Inconsiderate cycling

Failing to conform with the indication of a police officer when directing traffic

Failing to comply with a traffic sign

Exceeding temporary speed restrictions imposed by s 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984

Exceeding speed restrictions on a special road

Exceeding temporary speed limit imposed by order

Speeding offences generally

Methods of Notice of Intended Prosecution.

As far as alerting persons to any alleged offence, notice can be given by different means. It can be done by way of a summons served on the offender within 14 days of commission of the offence or by a notice of intended prosecution (NIP). The Notice of intended prosecution or NIP can either be given verbally at the time of the incident or in writing (i.e. if you get a ticket from a speed camera) and must be received within 14 days of the offence (or dispatched so that it would reach the driver within the 14 days within the ordinary course of the post). Service of a notice at the last known address of the accused will suffice for good service.  No notice is required if a full or provisional fixed penalty notice has been given or fixed (under the Provisions of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988) or if there is an accident involving the vehicle in question (of which the driver is aware).

Notice of Intended Prosecution.

So what exactly is a written NIP? In essence the Notice of Intended Prosecution is a document that specifies the nature of the offence and the time and place it is alleged to have been committed. It requires the keeper to provide the police with the name of the person who was driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged motoring offence. Providing this information is a legal obligation under Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act (RTA). If the keeper is uncertain who was driving their vehicle they may still guilty of an offence unless they either provide the name of the driver or .  Failure to provide the relevant information may result in prosecution and the punishment could be worse than for the speeding offence. Certain exceptions do apply however where it can be shown that the keeper did not know and could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained who the driver of the vehicle was (S172.4).

When it is best not to provide details of the driver

Essentially, if you do not inform the authorities who was driving you cannot be prosecuted for the offence. In effect this means that you can only be prosecuted for NOT informing the authorities who was driving your vehicle, an offence which attracts a maximum penalty of 6 points and £1000 fine. With that in mind an instance where it may be in the keepers best interest to abstain from supplying any details to the police (and essentially contravene s172) would be where the keeper of the vehicle committed a dangerous driving offence by, for example, driving at speeds in excess of 100mph.  Dangerous driving offences carry much harsher penalties, namely a minimum 12 month driving ban and up to 6 months imprisonment, and as a result it may be wiser in these type of cases to opt for the less onerous penalties incurred for a s172 contravention.

NIP and Limited Companies

A NIP can also be issued to limited companies and the requirement of disclosure is is also obligatory. The requires the keeper of the vehicle to identify the driver. Subsection (3) makes it an offence for the keeper to fail to comply. Subsection (4) provides a defence if the Keeper shows that he did not know who the driver was and could not have found out by using "reasonable diligence". However under Subsection (6) the company must prove that as well as not being able to identify the driver using ‘reasonable diligence’ it must show that it did not keep a record of who was driving the vehicle and that the failure to keep such records was reasonable. This is an onerous test to pass as it is generally fairly easy for a company to have a system in place which identifies the driver of a company vehicle at any given time, for example a log book kept in the vehicle which allows any drivers to enter the details of his or her journey. If the company did have such a system but it didn't work on a particular occasion that might suffice as a defence.

Management Personal Responsibility

 As far as management responsibility is concerned subsection (5) of the act says that where a director or senior manager of the company caused or connived with the failure to identify the driver, that person is also guilty. Most contraventions involving company vehicles result in the company being fined however there are instances where directors can also have points endorsed on their licence.  In relation to s172, in general most police forces prosecute the company and not the Directors for failing to identify the driver as this leads to a conviction and fine without any effort.  Additionally it may not be in the best interest of the court to prosecute Directors (solely to get points put on a licence).

General Speeding Penalties

As far as penalties for general speeding are concerned, if a guilty plea is submitted early on there is normally a fixed penalty of 3 points and a £60 fine. Fines on conviction are worked out in terms of your weekly wage after tax and national insurance. Depending on the severity of the speeding offence these fines can range from 25 to 175% of your net wage and are subject to a maximum fine of £1,000 if the offence is committed on roads other than a motorway and £2,500 if the offence occurs on a motorway.  Points on conviction range from 3-6 while disqualification periods range from zero up to 56 days. Compulsory re-testing is another penalty the courts can impose in certain cases. In particular circumstances, driving at speeds lower than the legal limit may also result in prosecution for other offences, for example dangerous driving or driving without due care and attention when the speed is inappropriate and inherently unsafe.

                                                                                                                                                           Right to Silence

In relation to the controversial ‘right to silence’ argument, the ECHR verdict in (o’halloran and francis) enable the British Government to continue to force motorists to incriminate themselves using S172 of the Road Traffic Act, which is almost always the only evidence of the driver's identity in speed camera cases

Keywords: Dangerous Driving In Scotland, Notice Of Intended Prosecution, Notice of Prosecution, s2 Road traffic Act, s3 Road Traffic Act, speed cameras,

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