Blake Lapthorn success for client at Oxford Crown Court
Miss G recently instructed Blake Lapthorn to assist her appeal,
which was heard at Oxford Crown Court, against a conviction for a
motoring offence in the Thames Valley.
Miss G had been prosecuted for an offence of failing to identify
the driver of a motor vehicle when required to do so, which was
contrary to Section 172(3) Road Traffic Act 1988. However she was
adamant that she was not guilty.
The police have statutory powers to request details of the
driver of a motor vehicle where that driver is alleged to have
committed certain motoring offences. The vehicle that was alleged
to have been driven in excess of the speed limit was a 'works
vehicle' and could have been driven by a large number of
Miss G had been employed as a security guard in the Thames
Valley. A vehicle commonly used as a pool car had been detected
exceeding the speed limit and her employer had received a notice of
intended prosecution / request for driver details. It had nominated
her as being the driver and so the police sent her a request for
driver details form. Miss G wrote back to Thames Valley Police
indicating that because it was a 'works vehicle' she could not be
sure who the driver was. She asked for a photograph in an attempt
to shed light on matters but it proved inconclusive. She then
filled in the form nominating herself as being the driver but she
also placed an asterisk next to the signature section of the form
indicating that she was not 100% sure of who the driver was.
Thames Valley Police refused to accept that as a nomination as
to the identity of the driver and so issued proceedings in the
Magistrates Court in Oxfordshire for the offence of failing to
identify driver details contrary to Section 172. Miss G had
mistakenly believed that when she responded to the summons by
pleading guilty via post she was pleading guilty to the offence of
speeding. She did not realise that she was pleading guilty to
She sought to appeal against her conviction to Oxford Crown
Court and turned to Blake Lapthorn for advice and assistance.
Technically Miss G could not appeal the conviction as such because
she had pleaded guilty. Blake Lapthorn advised seeking to have the
case re-opened so that the issue of plea could be re-visited.
Miss G was not the keeper of the vehicle. It is important to be
clear that the information that one must give to the police differs
depending on whether or not one is the keeper.
If the recipient of a request for driver details is the keeper
then there is an obligation to give the police the information they
require i.e. the recipient must identify the driver of the vehicle.
It is a defence for a motorist who is the keeper to show that it
was not reasonably practicable for him/her to name the driver and
that he/she could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained
the identity of the driver.
However, a person who is not the keeper need 'only' give the
police such information that he/she is able to give, which might
lead to the driver being identified. In other words in order
to convict Miss G the Crown Prosecution Service had to prove that
she had additional information that she could have given but did
not do so. Miss G maintained that she could not be sure who
the driver was and had no more information to give.
Blake Lapthorn wrote to the Crown Prosecution Service outlining
the issues in the case and the legal position of someone as to what
a motorist like Miss G who is not the keeper of a vehicle is
required to do upon receiving a request for driver details.
The Crown Prosecution Service agreed with Blake Lapthorn's analysis
and having reviewed the file, decided not to oppose the
appeal. Accordingly, the Judge sitting at Oxford Crown Court
re-opened the case, Miss G pleaded not guilty and the Crown
Prosecution Service offered no evidence. Miss G was awarded
her costs in respect of these proceedings and was delighted with
Tim Williamson, the head of Blake Lapthorn's Motoring Offences
team, commented: "This case goes to show the importance of
carefully considering whether or not one is the keeper of the
vehicle. The obligation differs depending on whether or not
the person is the keeper and so it is important that specialist
advice is sought at an early stage."