Convicted in Absence for a Driving Offence

Being ‘convicted in absence’ under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act (also known as ‘trial in absentia’) means that the court reached a decision to sentence you for an alleged offence even though you did not attend the court hearing in person.

This can happen by mistake if you accidentally forget to respond to a letter, or if you didn’t know you had to attend at all.

Section 172 Road Traffic Act

A section 172 notice is a notice of intended prosecution which can be served verbally by the police or by a letter in the post soon after the offence was committed. These days, many traffic offences are detected by automated systems (speed cameras) so the police need a way to require vehicle owners to provide details of the driver at the time an offence was committed.

The written notice is sent by post to the registered keeper of the vehicle named on the V5 document within 14 days, who is then required to provide driver details. Failure to complete and return the section 172 notice within 28 days can lead to a charge of failure to furnish driver ID which can lead to an MS90 conviction.

A notice can also be sent to any other person with the same consequences if there is not response.

MS90 Convictions

MS90 is the code used by the court and DVLA.

An MS90 conviction is the result of failing to provide information about the identity of a driver at the time a driving offence was committed. This can happen unintentionally but if convicted an MS90 endorsement carries a penalty of 6 points and a fine of up to £1,000.

It is very common for the registered keeper of a vehicle to change their address and forget to provide the new details to the DVLA. The notice of intended prosecution is sent to the old address, the vehicle owner is unaware of the offence and an MS90 conviction in absence is entered.

A notice of intended prosecution is deemed to have been served if it was posted to him/her at their last known address even if is was returned undelivered or for any other reason was not received by him/her.

If you have received an MS90 conviction, we can help.

How We Can Help You

If you have been convicted of a road traffic offence and you were unaware of the proceedings against you, contact our experienced driving offence solicitors now for a free initial consultation on consultation on 0161 832 3852 or make an enquiry online here. 

Reopening Motoring Convictions and Sentences

If you realise you have been convicted in absence due to a mistake or oversight, all is not lost.

The case can be dealt with after the fact (re-opened) by applying to the magistrate’s court and making a 'statutory declaration'.

Doing so allows you to start over. You then get the opportunity to put forward your defence or plead guilty and attempt to reduce the penalties imposed.

To reopen your case, you have to go before the Magistrates and outline why you were unaware of the proceedings. This is your opportunity to persuade the Court that they should reopen the case in the interests of Justice.

What is a statutory declaration?

Making a statutory declaration to the magistrate’s court is very often done in relation to our clients who have been convicted of road traffic offences without realising it.  

The reasons are often related to out of date DVLA records due to a change of address.  

In 2004/5, 170,000 (one hundred and seventy thousand) defendants (15% of all those charged) failed to attend their trial in the Magistrates Court and the charge was proved in their absence.

The overwhelming majority of these were motoring offences (National Audit Office 10/02/2006 ‘CPS: Effective Use of Magistrates Courts Hearings’).

You will automatically be granted the opportunity to make a statutory declaration if you make the request within 21 days of finding out that you have been convicted of an offence.  Beyond 21 days it may be refused at the discretion of the Magistrate.

If you find out you have been convicted in your absence you must act quickly.

You will need to provide clear evidence to support your claim that a mistake has been made. For example. you may be able to show valid paperwork, such as insurance or MOT documents, that you weren’t able to provide at the time.

Contact our experienced team of driving offence solicitors today on 0161 832 3852 for a free consultation, or make an enquiry online here.

What sort of offences does this apply to?

Section 172(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 creates an obligation to provide information. Failure to do so is known as a “Section 172 offence” and can be applied to most road traffic offences.

However, the most common causes are probably speeding offences and failure to furnish.  

What often happens is that the registered keeper of the vehicle doesn't respond to the notice of intended prosecution. Perhaps they have changed address and not updated the DVLA, or perhaps they are not sure who was driving at the time. This ‘failure to furnish’ details of the driver is an offence which can be enforced in the absence of the accused under section 172 of the road traffic act.

Have you been convicted of a driving offence in your absence?

 

If you have been convicted of a driving offence without your knowledge, it is important to contact an experienced driving offences solicitor immediately.  The time you take to act can have a major impact on your chances of success.

Contact our experienced team of driving offence solicitors today on 0161 832 3852 for a free consultation, or make an enquiry online here.