During the lead up to Christmas we look forward to items coming through the door such as Christmas cards and presents. Unfortunately, sometimes, less favourable news arrives in the form of a letter from the police asking you to nominate the driver of a vehicle at a particular time and a particular location. These requests are often made under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act and the requests are usually made by the police to decide who they can prosecute for a road traffic offence – most usually speeding. If you receive one of these, you must reply – even if you can’t help the police. For, if you don’t reply, then you may well be summonsed to appear before a court. Where an offence such as speeding has been committed the police have to send out a letter to the registered keeper of the vehicle within a specified time limit. If you are not the registered keeper of the vehicle that you drive regularly – for example because you leased the vehicle – then it may be that the police will have complied with the time limit by sending the letter to the hire company.

If, for example, a letter is sent to you and you know that your partner was driving the vehicle at the time then you must still complete and return the form. Don’t just pass the form to your partner for them to sign and return because this will not be accepted by the police. They will send your partner a separate letter once you have notified them who was driving.

All requests must be replied to immediately and there is a cut-off period of 28 days. Therefore, if you don’t reply within 28 days then you may well be committing an offence which is punishable by 6 penalty points and a fine.

If you simply do not know who the driver was then you can say that on the form but the police (and ultimately the court) will expect you to have made exhaustive enquiries to show that it is absolutely impossible for you to know who was driving the vehicle on a particular date.

Failing to fill in the form correctly and send it back can be punished more severely than an offence of speeding itself. For, as above, the endorsement for failing to respond to the form is 6 points whereas points for speeding can (if the court are not considering a disqualification) range from 3 to 6.

There is a lot of “urban myth” about signing, dating and returning these forms but most of that myth has been wiped away by various previous court decisions. If you are in any doubt at all as to what to do, then please consult us. Appropriate prompt advice at the right time can save a lot of time, expense and worry in the long run!

Happy and safe driving!