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Criminal Law News VIC

Failure to disclose identity of driver to police

Failure to Disclose Identity of Driver to Police in a Road Rage Investigation.

Two constables were investigating an alleged road rage incident on 15 April 2010 which involved a car with a license plate number: BE 82 TH. The driver of the car allegedly assaulted another motorist. The constables visited the lade accused at her home to confirm her ownership of the car; to inform her that her car has been involved in a road rage incident; and to request the owner of the car to supply them with the name and address of the driver of the car.

The constables also informed her that her refusal to divulge the identity of the accused would make her liable for a criminal charge of failure to disclose identity of the driver. The lady accused claimed that she did not know as she was drunk and passed out at the time. The police filed a criminal complaint against her and the case was brought to the local court to determine whether a prima facie case existed against the owner of the car. The local court upheld the existence of a prima facie case of failure to disclose identity of driver under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002.

The question arose about the sufficiency of the charge against the owner of the car because the constable initially demanded the identity of the driver of the vehicle under Section 173 of the Road Transport (General) Act 2005 but charged her with a violation of Section 17 (1) of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002. A further complication arose because the request for the identity of the driver under Section 173 of the Road Transport (General) Act 2005 is only applicable when the owner of the vehicle is alleged to have committed a crime under the Road Transport (General) Act 2005. The constables were clearly investigating an assault which is a crime under the Crimes Act and not under the Road Transport (General) Act 2005. The question before the lower court is whether or not the lady driver was properly charged.

The lower court ruled that since the car registered to the accused was alleged to have been used in the commission of a crime, then the police had the power to request the information of the registered owner. Her failure or refusal to accede to the constable’s request leaves her vulnerable to the charge of failure to disclose identify of driver. The charge was sufficient.

Reference:
Police v Amanda BARBER [2011] NSWLC 12, Local Court New South Wales [online]. Available from: [Accessed 12 April 2013]
 

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