When a road traffic offence is suspected to have been committed and the driver of the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the incident to be spoken to, it is the registered keeper of the vehicle who will receive an initial letter from the Camera, Tickets & Collision Unit of the Police Constabulary where the offence is alleged to have taken place, if a prosecution is being contemplated.
There is a legal requirement for the letter, which is known as a “notice of intended prosecution”, to be sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days of the incident. The form that accompanies the letter requires the registered keeper of the vehicle to identify who the driver was at the time of the incident. In cases where registered keeper was the driver of the vehicle, the registered keeper is obliged to confirm this on the form and return it. In many cases, the registered keeper was not the driver at the time the incident occurred, and in this scenario, the registered keeper is obliged to provide the details of who the driver was. That will then result in the nominated driver themselves receiving the same form in the hope that the police can successfully confirm and identify who the driver was.
It is a legal requirement to respond to the form, and so ignoring it will most likely result in formal prosecution for failing to assist in identifying who the driver was. This can result in the imposition of penalty points on your licence, a fine, and a requirement to pay prosecution costs. If the person who ignores the form already has points on their licence, the additional points can lead to disqualification from driving.
The letter from the Camera, Tickets and Collision Unit does not disclose or give any indication as to the strength of the evidence in relation to the offences which are alleged. This can lead to something of an understandable panic once a letter is received, because you are not likely to know whether or not there is any realistic prospect of a prosecution in relation to the offences which are alleged. As such, people are often reticent in notifying the police that they were the driver which of course will then give the police all the evidence they need when it comes to considering the prospect of a criminal prosecution. However, ignoring the form and hoping that the matter will go away is not a wise decision either. There may well be very compelling evidence that the recipient of the latter was responsible for committing an offence or series of offences, and so if the form is ignored, then the person may face prosecution for the driving offences alleged as well as for the offence of failing to respond to the notice itself.
There are many issues to consider in such matters and this area of law can be something of a minefield for the unwary. A s such, it is always sensible to consult a solicitor before completing the form and returning it.
For more information or to discuss your case with a specialist defence lawyer, please contact us in London (West Drayton) on 01895 449288 or in Hertfordshire (St Albans) on 01727 840900 or by email via our contact page.