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WHEN a motoring offence happens, and the driver has not been stopped at the time, a Notice of Intended Prosecution is sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle.
In the case of a company, a Notice is sent addressed to the company secretary who is responsible for completing and returning the Notice on the company’s behalf.
This is not necessarily the secretary of the company but someone in a position to be able to hold information in relation to the driver.
“Reasonable diligence” defence and keeping records
The company’s responsiblity is to name the driver, or if it is not in a position to do so, to show that reasonable diligence has been used to find the driver’s identity.
This position is the same for all registered keepers of vehicles, however in the case of a company, a “reasonable diligence” defence in accordance with S172(4) Road Traffic Act 1988 cannot be relied upon unless it can be shown that no records were kept in relation to who’s driving a company car at any given time, and failure to do so was ‘reasonable’.
An example of what’s considered reasonable would be a company owning one vehicle. Only one individual ever drives the car, but due to unusual circumstances, two people share the driving on a particular day. Under these circumstances it is likely the Court would view it as reasonable not to keep a record.
Conversely, if a company has 10 cars all shared by its 30 employees, the Court would consider it unreasonable not to keep track of who drives a particular vehicle on any given day.
Company penalty for failing to provide driver information
If a company is unable to nominate the driver, no driver can be endorsed with penalty points. However, an offence of failing to provide driver information carries a fine of up to £1000.
The fine assessment is based on the company’s profitability so the fines can be high. Companies risk substantial fines simply by failing to keep records in relation to who’s driving a company car at any given time.