Who's Driving Your Car?

Failure to disclose now carries a tougher penalty

Failing to disclose who was driving when caught speeding (or committing other endorseable offences) now carries a tougher penalty – six penalty points instead of three. Most speeding offences are detected by speed cameras, which cannot always identify the driver. The changes are to combat drivers who try to use weaknesses in the law to avoid fines and points on their licence.

Why the change?

For many years the law has required the registered keeper of a vehicle to be able to identify who was driving their vehicle if they were asked by the police, and it has been an offence not to be able to do so.

The advent of speed cameras has increased the number of times that people have refused to identify the driver and been prosecuted for this. If prosecuted people who couldn't name the driver could receive a lesser penalty – three points – than they would get if they went to court for a serious speeding offence.

This has led the government to raise the points awarded to a level equal to the highest number that can be endorsed for speeding – six.

Staying out of trouble

If you're a vehicle keeper you need to know who's driving your vehicle.

However much you trust them you have to accept that you could end up in serious trouble if you cannot name the driver. With speeding offences six points can ensue, and if whoever is driving your vehicle fails to stop after an accident or in other circumstances you could be at the centre of a very serious criminal investigation.

Many people are unaware that the keeper (not the driver) is ultimately liable for paying parking, congestion charge and some moving traffic offence penalties, regardless of whether they were driving.

In these cases the keeper may either want to get the driver to pay the fine, or to reclaim the fine from him or her, but may need proof of who was responsible for the vehicle at the time.

AA advice

If you really don't know who was driving at the time of the alleged offence (or you think there's an error – for example your vehicle couldn't have been where the offence was committed), you should write to the authority issuing the ticket as soon as possible.

We recommend that vehicle keepers keep a record of who they allow to drive their vehicle and the times at which they took it over and gave it back. They should also remind the driver that he must do the same thing if anyone else is allowed to drive, or he will be considered liable.

While it's normally easier to remember who was driving a family car, it's worth making sure that you know where and when you swapped driver in a journey.

Keepers should also remember that anyone who drives their vehicle needs to be licensed and insured to do so, and that it is possible that making a wrongful declaration of who is driving could lead to a charge of perverting the course of justice and a possible prison sentence. After all, you will have lied to a court.

The single most important piece of advice in dealing with a 'ticket' though is:

"Don't ignore it. Failure to respond means higher penalties, and at worst a visit from the bailiffs or a Court summons. The penalty won't go away."

AA Public Affairs


4 October 2007