The Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 172

Duty to give information as to identity of driver etc. in certain circumstances

Official U.K. Legislation:

The Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 172

  1. This section applies—
    1. a) to any offence under the preceding provisions of this Act except—
      1. i) an offence under Part V, or
      2. ii) an offence under section 13, 16, 51(2), 61(4), 67(9), 68(4), 96 or 120, and to an offence under section 178 of this Act,
    2. b) to any offence under sections 25, 26 or 27 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988,
    3. c) to any offence against any other enactment relating to the use of vehicles on roads, and
    4. d) to manslaughter, or in Scotland culpable homicide, by the driver of a motor vehicle.
  2. Where the driver of a vehicle is alleged to be guilty of an offence to which this section applies—
    1. a) the person keeping the vehicle shall give such information as to the identity of the driver as he may be required to give by or on behalf of a chief officer of police or the Chief Constable of the British Transport Police Force, and
    2. b) any other person shall if required as stated above give any information which it is in his power to give and may lead to identification of the driver.
  3. Subject to the following provisions, a person who fails to comply with a requirement under subsection (2) above shall be guilty of an offence.
  4. A person shall not be guilty of an offence by virtue of paragraph (a) of subsection (2) above if he shows that he did not know and could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained who the driver of the vehicle was.
  5. Where a body corporate is guilty of an offence under this section and the offence is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to neglect on the part of, a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or a person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he, as well as the body corporate, is guilty of that offence and liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
  6. Where the alleged offender is a body corporate, or in Scotland a partnership or an unincorporated association, or the proceedings are brought against him by virtue of subsection (5) above or subsection (11) below, subsection (4) above shall not apply unless, in addition to the matters there mentioned, the alleged offender shows that no record was kept of the persons who drove the vehicle and that the failure to keep a record was reasonable.
  7. A requirement under subsection (2) may be made by written notice served by post; and where it is so made—
    1. a) it shall have effect as a requirement to give the information within the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the notice is served, and
    2. b) the person on whom the notice is served shall not be guilty of an offence under this section if he shows either that he gave the information as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of that period or that it has not been reasonably practicable for him to give it.
  8. Where the person on whom a notice under subsection (7) above is to be served is a body corporate, the notice is duly served if it is served on the secretary or clerk of that body.
  9. For the purposes of section 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978 as it applies for the purposes of this section the proper address of any person in relation to the service on him of a notice under subsection (7) above is—
    1. a) in the case of the secretary or clerk of a body corporate, that of the registered or principal office of that body or (if the body corporate is the registered keeper of the vehicle concerned) the registered address, and
    2. b) in any other case, his last known address at the time of service.
  10. In this section—
    1. "registered address", in relation to the registered keeper of a vehicle, means the address recorded in the record kept under the Vehicles Excise and Registration Act 1994 with respect to that vehicle as being that person’s address, and
    2. "registered keeper", in relation to a vehicle, means the person in whose name the vehicle is registered under that Act; and references to the driver of a vehicle include references to the rider of a cycle.
  11. Where, in Scotland, an offence under this section is committed by a partnership or by an unincorporated association other than a partnership and is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance or in consequence of the negligence of a partner in the partnership or, as the case may be, a person concerned in the management or control of the association, he (as well as the partnership or association) shall be guilty of the offence.

The Law in Brief:

  1. The registered keeper of a vehicle (or any other person) must identify the driver of the vehicle when required to do so by a person authorised to make such a request (usually a police officer). Failure to do so is an offence unless it can be demonstrated that the details of the driver are unknown and could not be ascertained by making reasonable enquiries.
  2. A lawful requirement to identify the driver does not require to be made within 14 days
  3. If the requirement is made in writing - commonly after being detected by a speeding camera or a red light camera - a signed response should be made within 28 days and should only be made by the addressee

Penalties For Failing To Identify The Driver:

A driver convicted of a contravention of section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 faces a penalty points endorsement of 6 points. The Court also has a power of discretionary disqualification.

A Court may also impose a fine of up to £1,000 and/or a community payback order.

The Court does not have the power to impose a custodial sentence upon a driver for a contravention of section 172.

Official Legal Advice in Scotland

The Road Traffic Lawyer

Michael Lyon Solicitors

Michael Lyon Solicitors Limited is a team of highly specialised and experienced road traffic lawyers representing clients charged with motoring offences throughout Scotland. We hold a unique position in the market place due to our outstanding track record for successfully defending road traffic cases over the last decade. We restricted our practice solely to the defence of road traffic prosecutions in 2007 and have not looked back since. Our head office is located on High Street in Glasgow and our second office opened in Dumfries, directly across from Dumfries Justice of the Peace and Sheriff Court, back in 2011 to deal with the high number of speeding prosecutions emanating from the M74.

Over the years we have represented a broad range of clients from Police Officers to politicians and provided expert legal assistance in relation to thousands of road traffic cases in Scotland. Aside from regularly appearing in the Scottish media on matters of road traffic law over the last decade, Michael Lyon is also the accredited Consultant on the Road Traffic Offences and Disqualification section of The Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia, considered to be an essential text for solicitors practising road traffic law in Scotland.

If you are facing prosecution for any road traffic offence in Scotland, from dangerous driving down to a simple speeding charge, contact us today for expert legal representation. We can resolve many cases over the telephone free of charge.

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