A NIP is intended to warn you that you are going to be prosecuted for a driving offence. Usually NIPs are used by fixed cameras or the talivan overbridge guys who have zapped you with a laser speed detector. There is a time limit for service of an Notice of Intended Prosecution and failing to abide by it can be fatal to the Crown case.
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). The time limit for service of the NIP is a very important aspect of a succesful prosecution therefore if there has been a delay you should get in touch with a solicitor and obtain case specific advice.
Our own firm offers a free online consultation service and this may just save you from 3pp and a possible ban
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).
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).
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.
In relation to the controversial right to silence argument, the ECHR verdict in (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
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).