The Notice of Intended Prosecution (or NIP)
If you receive one of these it means that they're going to prosecute you for the offence. The NIP can take one of two forms:
- A written NIP (e.g. if you get a ticket from a speed camera)
- Verbal NIP
Most Constabularies send them out within 14 days of the alleged offence - even if you were spoken to at the time by a police officer (see verbal NIP). The law was amended in 1994 to allow the police to serve the NIP via ordinary post.
So, if it's more than 14 days since you were flashed, then they're too late to prosecute you - unless you were driving a company car, hire car or someone else's car. In those circumstances they're allowed more time to track you down and this letter from Staffordshire Constabulary may help you to understand this point.
If the police failed to meet the 14 day deadline for serving the initial NIP to the Registered Keeper, the following link, which includes advice provided by the RAC's legal team, may help you.
This link explains the legal position regarding inaccurate NIPs.
If you were stopped and spoken to by a police officer, they have 6 months to prosecute you because the officer will have issued you with a verbal NIP at the time.
There are two separate offences under the law:
- Not providing the name of the driver (this is covered under Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act);
If you receive a written NIP through the post and you were not spoken to at the time of the alleged offence, you can only be prosecuted for not informing the authorities who was driving your vehicle and, doing so, exonerates you from any prosecution - assuming that it wasn't you who was driving, of course!
You can not be prosecuted for speeding if you weren't driving the vehicle, but some Constabularies try to bully the registered keeper into accepting liability for the offence. However, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, so, if you weren't driving or honestly can't remember who the driver was, you should "stick to your guns".
If the vehicle was flashed by a Gatso camera then they'll have two photographs of the rear of the vehicle - so how can they prove who was driving, if the driver doesn't incriminate them self? However, you will be in much more trouble than for a speeding offence if you say that you weren't the driver and they can prove that you were! Take a look at the photographic evidence in our Case File 7, and if they treat you any differently to the citizen involved in this case reported on the BBC News site politely remind them that everyone must be treated equally under the provisions of the Human Rights Act introduced to implement the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
There is a "slip rule" that allows the court to modify small errors (such as name/address of the keeper) due to typographical mistakes. Serious errors cannot be modified, and will invalidate the NIP.
- If the registration number is incorrect then the Defendant need only complete the Section 172 Notice attached to the NIP, stating that they are not in fact the registered keeper of the vehicle whose registration number is shown on the Notice.
If you think that the speed quoted on the NIP is wrong then you should follow this link.
Under the provisions of Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the person who is registered as the keeper of the vehicle has a legal obligation to provide the police with the name of the person who was driving their vehicle at the time of the alleged motoring offence.
If the registered keeper fails to name the driver, then they may be guilty of an offence and could be liable to prosecution. This link has an example of such a case.