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Fail To Stop or Report An Accident

It is an offence under Section 170 Road Traffic Act 1988 to fail to stop at the scene of an accident

Where an accident has taken place and either damage or personal injury has been caused, then the driver of the vehicle is under a duty to remain at the scene of the accident and to provide their name and address.

Additionally, they also need to provide the name and address of the owner and the identification marks of the vehicle. This may be if required to do so by any person having reasonable grounds.

Failing To Report An Accident

Failure to report an accident is an offence under Section 170 Road Traffic Act 1988, if you have not stopped and exchanged details.

There is also an additional obligation that even if you do stop but either your details have not been requested or it is not practicable for you to exchange details i.e. there is no one else at the scene, you are required to report an accident at a police station as soon as is practical and, at the very latest, within 24 hours of the incident.

Fail to stop/report road accident (Revised 2017)

Road Traffic Act 1988, s.170(4)

Level of seriousness Starting Point Range Disqualification/points
Category 1 High level community order Low level community order – 26 weeks’ custody Disqualify 6 – 12 months
OR 9 – 10 points
(Extend if imposing immediate custody)
Category 2 Band C fine Band B fine – Medium level community order Disqualify up to 6 months        OR 7 – 8 points
Category 3 Band B fine Band A fine – Band C fine 5 – 6 points

Both offences are defendable allegations. You would have a defence if you: –

  1. Were not driving at the time of the accident;
  2. Weren’t driving on a public road or in a public place when the accident occurred;
  3. You could demonstrate that you had stopped at the time of the accident and exchanged details and if not, you had reported the incident as soon as practical;
  4. You had no knowledge that an accident had occurred.

The prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that injury or damage was caused.

If there was no damage or injury, no duty arises upon the driver to stop and/or report so you can’t be found guilty of failure to do so.

The most common defence used is that the driver was unaware that an accident had occurred.

If damage is shown, the burden passes to the driver to show, on the balance of probabilities, that they had no knowledge that there had been an accident.

Whether this is successful will depend on the severity of the impact involved and the amount of damage.

The higher the impact and the more damage caused, the more unlikely this defence becomes. It is increasingly difficult to demonstrate that the driver might not have known that an accident had happened.

It should be noted that;

  • if you were not aware that an accident had occurred
  • but you become aware of the incident within 24 hours of it taking place

you are still required to report it in the same way as you would have done had you known at the time

If you have been charged with either of the above offence or both as can happen, then please do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss your case with us.

Our motor law solicitor team cover all areas including Liverpool, Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire, Clwyd. We specialise in all motor offences including drink driving offences, drug driving offences, speeding offences, penalty point, failing to stop offences, using your mobile phone while driving offences. Contact us for a free initial telephone advice session with an experienced motor solicitor on 0151 480 5777 or email