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The Notice of Intended Prosecution (or NIP) explained

3 January 2022
Motoring
Document Offences

Which offences require a NIP?

The Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 requires for there to be notice given to a motorist for the fact that he/she may be prosecuted. The following offences require a Notice of Intended Prosecution:

  • Dangerous driving

  • Driving without due care and attention

  • Speeding offences

The rules on service of a NIP

The NIP can be served on a motorist in person or by way of postal service. If the NIP has been served on a motorist by post, there is a legal requirement for this Notice to be received within a 14 day period.

If the motorist has been involved in an accident, the fact that the accident has happened is considered notice. In these circumstances, the motorist should already know that proceedings are being considered against him or her. The same applies to a motorist who is stopped by a traffic officer at the roadside. The stop serves to inform the motorist that proceedings will be issued and the 14 day rule no longer applies.

There are many other scenarios where you might not receive the NIP. If, for example, you have moved house but not updated the DVLA, the sending of the NIP to the old address will likely be considered good service by the court. It doesn't matter if the NIP is returned as undelivered/addressee not at the address. Updating the address with the DVLA is the sole responsibility of the registered keeper and a failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £1,000.

If for some other reason caused by the keeper of the vehicle the NIP cannot be delivered despite the police trying all reasonable avenues, then the court will often consider the NIP rules satisfied in favour of the prosecution.

However, if the issue is caused by a failure on the part of the police due to something that they should have taken into account then the NIP may be deemed invalid and the prosecution stopped.

How long do I have to respond to a Notice of Intended Prosecution?

The statutory time limit for responding to a NIP is 28 days.

Do I have to respond to a Notice of Intended Prosecution?

If you don't respond to a NIP on which you are named personally within 28 days, or you submit an incomplete form, your licence might be endorsed with six penalty points for failing to provide information/identify the driver.

Defences for failing to respond to a NIP

There are two statutory defences available if the police say you haven't responded to a NIP

  • You provided a validly completed NIP as soon as was reasonably practicable but, outside the prescribed time limit & that it was reasonable for you to be late in replying.

  • were unable to identify the driver or potential drivers despite making all reasonable enquiries as to who that might be.

The Summons

Once the Notice of Intended Prosecution has been served on a motorist within the 14 day period, the summons to court needs to be ‘laid before the court’ within six months. It is then processed by the court, who will contact the defendant in due course.

If this does not happen and the 6 month period expires without the information being laid before the court, then the prosecution may be defective. It is worth noting that this doesn’t mean the person will necessarily receive the summons within 6 months. The prosecution or police simply have the notify the magistrates within that period.

When a motorist receives a summons to appear in court, there is a usual requirement to attend in person.

If you have any questions about a notice of intended prosecution you should contact a specialist motoring lawyer as soon as possible. Remember, time is usually of the essence in these cases.

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