If you have received a summons for failing to furnish information and not fully understand exactly what has happened, this information may help you decide what to do.
When a vehicle is involved in an offence (for example, if it is flashed by a speed camera) then the first question raised is: “Who was driving?”. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) need to know exactly who to prosecute and an image produced by a speed camera does not answer this question.
To obtain this information, a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) must be sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle involved within 14 days of the offence so that the identity of the driver committing the offence can be ascertained. This NIP will be sent to the last known address of the keeper which is information obtained from the DVLA (which is why we are all expected to keep the information on our driving licence up to date!)
The registered keeper is expected to know who was driving their vehicle at any given time and will be expected to identify the driver at the time of an alleged offence. There is a legal obligation for this information to be provided within a certain time stipulated on the NIP which is usually 28 days.
If this information is not provided, then the registered keeper of the vehicle has “failed to furnish information” and can be prosecuted. This is the case even when it is not the registered keeper who has committed the original offence so it is important that all NIP’s are dealt with upon receipt. There are various factors to consider if you receive an NIP so please contact us immediately if you have received a notice through the post.
The keeper of a vehicle could also be summoned to court if they have not completed the NIP sufficiently or it is still not clear exactly who was driving at the time of the alleged offence.
Anyone charged with failing to furnish information will face 6 penalty points on their licence and a fine of up to £1000. This penalty could be considered pretty harsh especially when the keeper of the vehicle may not have actually committed any initial offence
Defending Failing to Furnish Information
The law that governs this allegation is complex but it does allow for a number of possible defences that we could investigate. You may have actually returned the notice or never received it in the first place and not know why you are required to attend court.
Whilst there are a number of “technical defences”, the law also states that a person cannot be convicted they exercised “reasonable diligence” in trying to ascertain who the driver was. This is a common defence for people who share a car and in some circumstances the court will accept that there is simply no way to confirm who was driving the vehicle.
If you are a company, or the vehicle is registered to a company then again, we would strongly urge you to contact us as soon as possible as following our advice may result in a significant reduction of any penalty the court may wish to impose or possibly a total acquittal!
What Do I Do?
Any driver with 6 points or more on their licence will disqualification from driving for 6 months under the totting procedures but we employ various strategies that can help us acheive one of the following:
- No penalty points at all;
- A significantly reduced penalty;
- No disqualification
- A fine only; or
- An acquittal (found NOT GUILTY) of all charges.
If you wish to plead guilty immediately to the offence then we can offer representation which includes the meticulous preparation of your case, a specialist lawyer on hand for advice and support and a specialist advocate to attend court with you. If you are at risk of a 6 month disqualification, please see our section on “Totting Up” for further information or contact us to discuss the options in more detail.