Section 172, Road Traffic Act 1988

The law provides the police with wide powers to ascertain the identity of the person driving a vehicle at the time of any alleged motoring offence.  Frequently referred to as the “172 Requirement” the police can require the registered keeper of a vehicle to identify the driver of the vehicle at a particular time.  The requirement also extends to anyone else who is able to provide relevant information about the identity of a driver at a particular time.  

Failure to provide information about the identity of a driver at a particular time, when required to do so by the police, is an offence under Section 172.  The requirement should not be confused with the right to "remain silent" or make “no comment” in respect of other offences or police procedure.  Accordingly, you must comply with the 172 Requirement.  If you are not sure what to do you should contact us immediately.


The penalties for non-compliance of the 172 Requirement are 6 penalty points and a fine of up £1000.  The court also has the power to impose a period of disqualification.  Even if you were not the driver at the time of the original offence you could still receive 6 penalty points for failing to provide the relevant information to the police. 

Separate charges for attempting to pervert the course of justice can be raised if you name someone else as the driver when you know they were not.  The MP Chris Hume and his wife were imprisoned for falsely identifying who the driver was in respect of a minor road traffic offence which carried penalty points and a fine.


The requirement to furnish information is particularly used in Traffic Light and Speed Camera cases where the driver is not immediately stopped and the police do not know who was driving at the time.  In such a case the police will issue a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP), together with a requirement to identity the driver, to the registered keeper of the vehicle.  A period of 28 days is usually provided within which to respond.   If no response is forthcoming the police can bring a charge against the registered keeper of the vehicle, or any other person,  for failing to provide the relevant information.  In all cases it is essential that the prosecution prove that the request or notice for information was sent and was not returned. 

In addition to being charged with failing to identify a driver a person may also be prosecuted for the original offence that led to the enquiry in the first place, such as running a red light or speeding.  Arguably such an approach is unfair because the authorities have charged someone on the basis that they do not know the identity of the driver who committed the original offence.  However, the approach may work to your advantage if the original charge carries fewer penalty points.

The terms of a 172 Requirement impose strict duties on people to clearly identify a driver.   Individuals who ignore or seek to evade the requirement by claiming that they simply “don’t  know” will find themselves on the wrong side of a prosecution.  Of course, such a response is wholly understandable, especially if you are unexpectedly visited by the police about a motoring offence that took place some time ago.  In such circumstances you should ask for and be given sufficient time within which to make enquiries about who was driving your vehicle at a particular time.

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The law allows a person charged with failing to identify the driver of a vehicle to rely on the statutory defence of “Reasonable Diligence”.  In short, this means that you have made a real effort and taken all practical steps to find out who was driving.  The onus is therefore on you to establish that you do not know and could not, with reasonable diligence, ascertain the identity of the driver. 

Further defences may be available if you can establish that the Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) was not received by you or that your reply to it was not received by the police.  

How we can help

As with most other motoring offences, contraventions under section 172 are complex and difficult to defend. If you have received a "172 Requirement" or have been charged with failing to identify a driver it is important to obtain expert advice from a specialist road traffic lawyer as quickly as possible. Our experience and expertise in this area will determine the best option for you. Getting the right advice can save time and expense. It can also save your licence. We pride ourselves in offering a service that is friendly, honest and reliable. For free advice that is without pressure or obligation simply contact us:

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