As Motoring law specialists, we are frequently contacted by drivers who have been summoned to court for failing to identify the driver following a NIP being sent to the registered keeper’s address. This is often the first time they have heard about the matter as they never received the NIP.
After a motoring allegation has come to light (such as speeding or running a red light) the police contact the DVLA and establish who the registered keeper was and their current address. They send a NIP to the keeper within 14 days of the alleged offence and the keeper has 28 days to complete and sign the form and return to police.. Failure to do so is an offence contrary to S172 of the Road Traffic Act which carries 6 penalty points, a fine and court costs.
So if you didn’t receive the NIP in the first place then you can’t be guilty of the offence can you? Unfortunately it isn’t quite that simple.
The Road Traffic Act provides that the person who is served with a NIP and fails to provide the required information within the requisite time frame is guilty of the offence (unless he can avail himself of a statutory defence).
What does the term ‘served’ mean?
The notion of when the NIP is served relies on the postal system. The police will usually send the NIP first or second class to the keeper’s address i.e. the address that the keeper has told the DVLA he lives at. The NIP is treated as being properly served on the day it would then arrive at that address in the course of the ordinary post.
However, this service is rebuttable by the defendant i.e. they can give evidence on oath that the NIP didn’t arrive at the address that the DVLA had for them and if that is accepted by the court that will be the end of the matter and he/she will be found not guilty. However, if the NIP is properly ‘served’, the only statutory defences open to the defendant are that the owner gave the information as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of that period or that it has not been reasonably practicable for him to give it. In previous cases this defence has been used where there is more than one user of the vehicle and the registered keeper has been unable to ascertain with due diligence, who was actually driving the vehile at the relevant time.
Case Study – Krishevsky V DPP
In the recent High Court case Krishevsky V DPP the court emphasises that the key distinction here is not whether the defendant received the NIP but whether it was properly served and that service is not rebutted. Service of a reminder notice in the absence of service of the original NIP is not sufficient for a conviction. Only in a case where service of the NIP is not rebutted would the court need to consider the statutory defences.
So if the driver didn’t receive the NIP because it never arrived at their address, as Motoring lawyers we can argue that there was no service and that the case should be dismissed. If the NIP did arrive at the address but the owner couldn’t establish who was driving the vehicle at the relevant time or have only been able to establish that after the time limit, there is a defence that and a real prospect of success at court.
At Just Motor Law, we have vast experience in advising on all types of driving offences. If you need legal advice, contact us today on 0845 485 1228 or use our contact form.