Failing to identify the driver

Failing to identify the driver in Scotland is a road traffic offence that can have serious consequences. If you lie about who was driving this may be taken further as a perverting the course of justice case too.

Failing to identify the driver FAQ

A: If asked by a Police Officer to identify a person who was driving the vehicle you were in and you fail to do so, this is an offence

If you receive a notice of intention to prosecute within 14 days of an alleged offence, you are required to provide information to identify the driver.

Section 172 Road Traffic Act

Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act, which covers failure to provide driver details, is a complex law piece.

If you are reading this and tempted to name your spouse because you’re facing a totting up ban or your job requires a clean license, stop what you are doing right now and contact us straight away to discuss your case.

The initial chat is free. It would be best if you didn’t find yourself in deeper legal waters because you haven’t talked through the best way to proceed with an expert traffic lawyer.

What are the consequences of failing to identify the driver?

Failing to provide driver details is a criminal offence with severe penalties, and you could easily end up in jail for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Friends or family might tell you to name someone else who can ‘afford’ to attract the penalty, but with first-time offenders being jailed for doing just that, the risk is enormous and just not worth it.

The fact of the matter is that Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act requires you to identify the genuine driver.

Still not convinced?

The police are entitled to ask for proof that the person you named was driving the vehicle and proof they were insured.

Not only that, the requirement extends to anyone else who can provide relevant information about the identity of a driver at a particular time.

They may even have photographic evidence from a speed detection device, and if you’re in the image and have named someone else, you will be in legal hot water that will probably send you to prison.

There is no ‘right to remain silent’ or make ‘no comment’ as there is with other offences or police procedures.

So, if you are flashed by a speed camera or stopped by the police, get advice early on to see if you can reduce or remove the possibility of penalties the legal way.

What are the penalties for failing to identify the driver?

The penalties for not complying with the 172 requirements are 6 penalty points and a fine of up to £1000.  The court may also impose a period of disqualification.

Even if you were not the driver but failed to name the driver when required, you could still receive 6 penalty points.

Further, if you named someone as the driver when you knew they were not, you can receive separate charges for attempting to pervert the course of justice so you may add a prison sentence to the penalty points and fine.

Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP)

In cases where the police do not know who was driving when a motoring offence was committed, they will issue a NIP to the registered keeper, together with the requirement to identify the driver.

There are normally 28 days given to respond, and if no response follows, the police can bring a charge against the registered keeper of the vehicle for failure to provide driver details.

As well as being charged with failure to identify the driver, you may also be prosecuted for the original offence that initiated the NIP.

Please seek urgent legal advice before taking any action that may cause you more penalties than the original offence.

Potential defences for failing to name the driver

In law, if you are charged with failing to identify the driver of a vehicle, you can rely on the statutory defence of ‘Reasonable Diligence’.

This means that you have made a real effort and taken all practical steps to determine who was driving.

Therefore, in court, the onus will be on you to establish that you do not know and could not with reasonable diligence; ascertain the driver’s identity.

A further defence may be available if you can establish that you did not receive the NIP or that the police did not receive your reply to it.  

Failing to identify the driver lawyer

As you can see, failing to provide driver details in Scotland can have severe consequences, and we urge you to call us for a free consultation so you can get proper legal advice from the UK’s top road traffic law experts.