Failure to identify driver - Tim Ridyard

Failure to identify driver s172 Road Traffic Act 1988.The Divisional Court has just dealt with yet another 'failure to identify driver' case of which there have been quite a number over the last year or so in Weightman .v. DPP [2007] Divisional Court 6 March 2007.It is important for operators and drivers to be conscious that a failure to use "all due diligence" to ascertain the identity of a driver of a car may lead to conviction of a business, a sole trader or partners individually and their personal driving licences will be endorsed with penalty points. Directors and company staff cannot avoid personal liability by hiding behind the company veil as summonses can be issued against individuals within companies if there has been connivance in hiding the identity of a driver.This decision highlights the failings in the Magistrates to think a case through rationally and/or provide a satisfactory explanation of their findings. What this and previous cases really indicate is that it is necessary to really think through the driver identification process and use all reasonable procedures to try to ascertain the driver's identity - in some businesses it is almost impossible not to know who the driver is (e.g. through tachograph records); in other businesses, however, for example where pool cars are shared, it is harder although even a small amount of investigation can usually narrow down the identity to a few drivers, none of whom of course may wish to own up, in the knowledge that they will potentially have points endorsed on their licence for whatever offence is alleged.In the case of Weightman, which turns on its peculiar facts, the Divisional Court allowed an appeal by the driver who alleged it was unreasonable for the Magistrates' Court to have found that he had not used all diligence to try to ascertain the driver of the car. In the case Mr W was the registered keeper of the car which was seen allegedly being driven carelessly. He was served with a driver identification notice in the ususal fashion. On the day of the alleged careless driving Mr W had been in France and could prove this through travel documents which in fact he submitted in his response to the police. He stated that he could not know who the driver was and, further, he could not have ascertained who the driver was.Mr W was prosecuted, unsurprisingly given that most constabularies appear simply to prosecute and let the courts decide. The Magistrates agreed as a matter of fact that he had been in France at the time, that there was only a small pool of drivers who could have used the car and at the time in question Mr W's son had delegated responsibility for the car.The Magistrates' convicted him on the basis that he had not used all due diligence to try to find out the identity of the driver of the car. The Divisional Court said the Magistrates had failed to explain satisfactorily why they had rejected Mr W's defence.Tim Ridyard is a partner and road transport lawyer at Barker Gotelee solicitors

New EU drivers’ hours rules

On April 11th 2007 the new EU Drivers’ Hours rules (Regulation 561/2006) will come into force. Drivers and operators will face considerable changes, so to help you through the transition, has joined forces with Tachodisc to produce a three-page "microsite" to tell you exactly what you need to know and to answer your questions.

EC regulation 561/2006 implements changes from 11 April 2007 to the scope, exemptions and definitions of rules on rest and breaks. It also introduces further changes to the production of records at the roadside from 1 January 2008. / Tachodisc microsite

FTA members' briefing note