Failing to Identify Driver

Perhaps the first time you will realise you may have committed a motoring offence is when you pick up your post one morning and open a letter from the police, demanding that you tell them who was driving your vehicle when speeding or another offence was committed. This is the infamous section 172 notice.

Normally this will be because the vehicle has been photographed by a Gatso or similar speed detection device. The police will have checked the identity of the “registered keeper” (i.e. you) and sent you the notice.

Don’t Panic!

What to do? Well, let me put your predicament in context. First of all, don’t panic. You have 28 days to respond so don’t do anything rash: take the time to take stock of your situation. But remember there is no way you can ignore this notice; if you do then you will be prosecuted for non compliance, resulting in a likely criminal conviction, 6 points on your licence and a fine plus court costs! Moreover, everything you write on that form must be true to the very best of your knowledge.

Note that the police do not have to serve the section 172 notice within any particular period but it will be as good as useless if not served with another document, the Notice of Intended Prosecution (or NIP), where such document is a requirement: see the section on this site dealing with NIP’s. Please note that theses two notices tend to be combined in one document i.e. the document which came through your letter box.

Legal Loopholes

This area of law is complex and ‘loophole’ defences may well be available. For instance the prosecution must prove that the request was made on behalf of the Chief Constable and must prove proper service of the notice. Also bear in mind the defence, which appears in section 172 itself, of not knowing who the driver was and that you have acted with reasonable diligence to find out who that person was. If this should be the case then you have to prove on the balance of probabilities that you have acted with reasonable diligence.

These are just a few examples of attacks which can be made on the prosecution case.


Julian Harris


T. 07714 302 072