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Notice of Intended Prosecution

If You have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) and are not certain what to do then before you do anything else read the page below.

What is a notice of intended prosecution?

The law requires that to be convicted of certain specified road traffic offences the driver, or registered keeper, of the vehicle in question must receive a warning that a prosecution is being considered within 14 days of the date of the commission of the offence (as it can be difficult to defend oneself if only notified long after the event). One of the ways in which a driver can be notified is by way of a Notice of Intended Prosecution.

Which offences are covered by this rule?

There is a long list including driving dangerously, without due care and attention, speeding and certain offences of failing to comply with traffic signs. Please note that the requirement to serve a notice within 14 days does not apply if the vehicle concerned was involved in an accident. (Beware, the motorist who clips and damages a wing mirror of a stationary vehicle who drives away thinking ‘no one was hurt – there was no accident’ would be wrong. The causing of damage to another vehicle would ordinarily mean that the incident came within the definition of an ‘accident’).

What if the first I heard of this allegation was months later?

If the police claim a NIP was served by first class post it is presumed (in law) that it was unless or until the contrary is proved ie there is a rebuttable presumption of good service.  What this may mean in practice is that the prosecution does not have to prove that the NIP was served but that the Accused would have to show that it wasn’t! So, in a case in which the CPS was relying on the presumption of good service this could mean you would only overcome the presumption by attending your trial and giving evidence in your defence that the notice was not served in time.

You should bear in mind that breach of the rule does not prevent prosecution only conviction. In some circumstances, if the police have not complied with the law and have failed to serve the Notice and you can demonstrate this to them (with an authoritative letter setting out the relevant law and facts at an early stage of proceedings) it may be that they would consider dropping the case against you long before any trial. Of course, if they were to drop a case following receipt of such a letter this could save you a great deal of stress, costs and time as well as avoiding a conviction.

If I prove at court that I was not notified in time will I win my case?

If the police can show they acted with ‘reasonable diligence’ in trying to trace the accused/registered keeper but could not have been expected to do so within the time limit, then the limit may be found by a court not to apply. Also, if the accused makes it difficult for the police to trace him this can also be taken into account. So, for example, if you have not kept the DVLA up to date with your address, of if the vehicle you were driving was not registered in your name, you may find that even if the Notice was served outside of the 14 day limit that this is not a bar to conviction.

Must a notice of intended prosecution comply with certain requirements?

Yes, the notice must comply with certain requirements including specifying the nature of the alleged offence and the time and place where it was alleged to have been committed.  However, the law in this area is technical. If you are unsure of your ground then you should obtain legal advice.

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