Notices under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988

07 November 2018

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question:

A notice is sent to the registered keeper of a vehicle, under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, requesting the identity of the driver in relation to an offence.

The registered keeper's wife, who lives at the same address, opens the notice and telephones the police to ask what the form is about. She is told that the registered keeper should complete the form and return it.

If the form is not returned, could the registered keeper state in his defence that his wife never told him about the notice?

Answer:

The case of Whiteside v DPP 2011 dealt with a similar situation, where the defendant claimed that the notices sent to him were not received by him personally. In this case it was held that the offence created by section 172(3) of the Act did not require knowledge on the defendant's part that he was under an obligation to provide the specified information.

The court stated that in an appropriate case, a defendant might be able to show that it was not reasonably practicable for him to have been aware of the notice, in which case the defence under section 172(7)(b) of the Act would apply.

However, they held that in the instant case, the defendant did not have a defence under section 172(7)(b) merely by virtue of the fact that he had no knowledge that the notices had been sent. The justices had properly considered whether he had satisfied them that it was not reasonably practicable to respond to the notices on the ground that he had never been aware of them, and they had concluded that he had not discharged that burden.

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