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A Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) is simply a notice from the Police to inform a potential defendant that an alleged offence has been recorded and that they may be prosecuted for that offence. If you receive an ‘NIP’ it doesn't automatically mean that you’re going to be prosecuted, but it does serve as a warning that you ‘may’ face prosecution.
A defendant cannot be convicted of certain road traffic offences, unless he or she has been warned that the question of prosecution would be taken into consideration. The NIP need not be specific and small mistakes on the NIP will not render it ineffective, unless it would mislead the potential defendant, but it must refer to one or more of the following offences:
Careless driving/driving without reasonable consideration;
Leaving the vehicle in a dangerous position;
Disobeying certain traffic signs and police signals;
Or aiding and abetting any of the above.
There is an exception, that is, if owing to the presence on a road of a vehicle in respect of which the offence was committed, an accident occurred at the time of the offence or immediately afterwards, then an NIP does not have to be given unless the defendant was unaware that they had been involved in an accident.
An NIP can be given to the driver either orally or in writing at the time the alleged offence was committed or it must be served on the Registered Keeper within 14 days of the alleged offence otherwise the offence cannot proceed at court; the 14 day time limit starts (the day immediately after) on the day following the alleged offence.
If the details of the driver are not known, then the NIP will be sent to the address of the Registered Keeper; so long as the NIP arrives at that relevant address, within the time limit of 14 days, the NIP is valid. Once the Police have complied with this requirement, there is no time limit for them to issue further Notices to other people, in the event that the Registered Keeper was not the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence and someone else was nominated as being the driver.
If the Registered Keeper has changed address or not informed the DVLA, for example, as long as the NIP arrived at the address recorded for the Registered Keeper within 14 days, it is still valid. If the Police fail to serve the NIP within the statutory 14 days, and the offence alleged requires them to do so, they will be unable to secure a conviction for the offence.
An NIP is be deemed to have been served on a person if it was posted to them at their last known address, notwithstanding that the notice was returned as undelivered or was for any other reason not received by them. A posted NIP is deemed to be served until the contrary is shown. The prosecution does not have to call evidence to prove that the NIP requirements have been complied with unless the defendant proves, on the balance of probabilities, that no effective notice was given; this issue can be raised at any stage of the proceedings.
A Notice of Intended Prosecution is usually sent with a Request for Driver Information (s.172 request). This request places a legal obligation on the Registered Keeper or nominated person, to provide the details of the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence. The Registered Keeper or nominated person, is then required to sign and return the relevant paperwork within 28 days.
Although the NIP and Request for Driver Details (s.172 request) documents are sent out together, they should be treated as completely separate documents for legal purposes and the Request for Driver Details should not to be confused with the NIP that is legally required to be sent by the police within the 14 days.
With the exception of Dangerous Driving, the above listed road traffic offences, are all called ‘summary only’ matters and in most cases these types of proceedings are commenced by way of the laying of an information and the issue of a summons. For almost all summary offences the information must be laid within six calendar months from the commission of the offence.
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