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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS


In this month’s edition we feature more road traffic issues relevant to the trade supplied by Patterson Law. These questions are based on real enquiries that we have received from professional drivers this month. If you need any advice on motoring matters, please email e.patterson@pattersonlaw.co.uk or call 01626 359800 for free legal advice.


One of the most common questions we get asked at Patter- son Law is whether you can “reject” a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) if it has been received outside of 14 days. The simple answer to that is no, there is no such thing as ‘rejecting’ a NIP. But that does not mean that a Notice that has been sent outside 14 days is valid, and it still may be an argument to avoid prosecution at Court.


THE NOTICE OF INTENDED PROSECUTION (NIP)


The purpose of a NIP is to bring the offence to the attention of the driver. But it is only required for certain offences. The offences to which it relates are noted in the schedules to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. For example, speeding requires a NIP but driving whilst using a mobile phone does not.


So the starting point is always to look at whether the offence itself requires one.


The most common offences that require NIPs are speeding, contravening a red light and driving without due care and attention.


HOW CAN A NIP BE GIVEN?


1) A written NIP is served on either the driver or the registered keeper within 14 days of the commission of the offence.


2) The driver is charged/summonsed to Court within 14 days.


3) A verbal notice is given at the time the offence is committed (for example if a police officer stops some- body for speeding).


There are rarely any arguments regarding (2) or (3) – most of the arguments surrounding NIPs relate to whether one was posted within 14 days.


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2) Police can’t with reasonable diligence ascertain the details of the registered keeper. This might include where the vehicle is not yet registered with the DVLA.


3) Where an accident has occurred that the driver knew about (an accident is defined as a collision causing damage between a vehicle and another vehicle, person or property) then no NIP is required at all.


WHAT IF THERE IS AN ERROR?


An error in the notice, for example an error in the road or in the name of the person on whom it is served, does not automatically invalidate it.


MAY 2021 WHAT IF I RECEIVE IT OUTSIDE OF 14 DAYS?


If you believe that a notice was served outside of 14 days, then there may be an argument. A NIP must be ‘served’, and served means sent and received.


Where a NIP is sent by first class post, there is a presumption that it has been delivered. But with evidence, for example evidence of postal issues or missing post, that presumption can be rebutted. So if the police say one was sent within 14 days but you did not receive it, then with supporting evidence there may be an argument.


But just because you haven’t received one within 14 days it doesn’t automatically mean that it has gone missing in the post or hasn’t been served.


The most common misconception is where people receive a NIP sometimes months after an offence has been committed, simply because it is not their car. If it is a hire car or a leased car, very often the first NIP goes to the registered keeper (ie the lease car company) within 14 days, and they then nomi- nate the actual driver. So even though the driver doesn’t receive it until months later, this doesn’t make it invalid as the first NIP went to the registered keeper within 14 days.


Then, the next step to check is whether any of the exceptions apply. There are a number of exceptions to the rule that mean that a NIP either doesn’t need to be given, or at least not given within 14 days:


1) If the registered keeper contributed to the failure. This includes cases where, for example, the registered keeper was on holiday and didn’t open it until day 16 or 17, or where the registered keeper moved address but failed to update the V5 with the DVLA.


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