Q About nine months ago I sold my car, and very soon afterwards moved abroad with my family on a work contract for three years. I completed, and sent, to the DVLA a form notifying them of the sale of the car. We rented out our house in the UK and had post forwarded to my parents. Very recently, I have received a court summons for speeding and failure to identify the driver at the time of the speeding offence, via my parents address.
It turns out that my husband was driving at the time, but I did not receive either the request for information about the driver or a notice of intended prosecution. I can see from the copies of these documents received with the summons that they were sent to an address we lived at prior to our most recent home in the UK, but I forgot to notify the DVLA of the change of address. I have since rectified this. Can I defend both charges, on the grounds that I was not driving and I did not receive either the request for information about who was driving, or the notice of intended prosecution?
A Unless there has been an accident, or the offending driver was warned at the time of the offence that he may be prosecuted for it, notice of intended prosecution has to be served on either the driver or the registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days of a speeding offence.
With regard to the request of you as the registered keeper to identify the driver (which is often combined with a notice of intended prosecution), you are obliged by law to give such information as is in your power to give. You might argue that it is not in your power to give information if you never received the request. However, the court is likely to rule that as you did not inform DVLA of your new address, and the police sent the request to the registered address, then it was in your power to receive and deal with the request, but you failed to make this possible. Similarly, the police do not have to comply with the requirement to serve a notice of intended prosecution if they can demonstrate that the registered keeper’s identity could not with reasonable diligence be ascertained in time to serve the notice within the required period. Although your identity was known, your address was not, and the police are likely to be able to establish that you would have been served with a notice on time had you registered your correct address.
Both points are arguable either way, but you are unlikely to succeed on either count. If you decide to plead guilty to failure to identify the driver, but not guilty to speeding, because you were not the driver, the police would probably drop the speeding charge. They might be inclined to pursue your husband for that offence, and seek leave of the court to proceed outside the six months from the date of the offence allowed for bringing proceedings for such an offence, but I suspect that they will not go to those lengths.