For many people who have been involved in a road traffic collision or involved in an accident, the last thing to cross your mind will be the legal requirements.
The obvious first thing to do is to check the safety of those involved. This is followed by the dreaded moment when you look at your vehicle to assess the damage done. Your heart sinks, your adrenaline is pumping and the “what if’ thoughts begin racing through our minds.
So what is the law in relation to stopping at the scene ?
Section 170 of The Road Traffic Act 1988
Duty of driver to stop, report accident and give information or documents.
(1)This section applies in a case where, owing to the presence of a [F1mechanically propelled vehicle] on a road [F2or other public place], an accident occurs by which—
(a)personal injury is caused to a person other than the driver of that
[F1mechanically propelled vehicle], or
(b)damage is caused—
(i)to a vehicle other than that [F1mechanically propelled vehicle] or a trailer drawn by that [F1mechanically propelled vehicle], or
(ii)to an animal other than an animal in or on that [F1mechanically propelled vehicle] or a trailer drawn by that [F1mechanically propelled vehicle], or
(iii)to any other property constructed on, fixed to, growing in or otherwise forming part of the land on which the road [F3or place] in question is situated or land adjacent to such land.
(2)The driver of the [F1mechanically propelled vehicle] must stop and, if required to do so by any person having reasonable grounds for so requiring, give his name and address and also the name and address of the owner and the identification marks of the vehicle.
(3)If for any reason the driver of the [F1mechanically propelled vehicle] does not give his name and address under subsection (2) above, he must report the accident.
(4)A person who fails to comply with subsection (2) or (3) above is guilty of an offence.
In a nutshell this means that if you have been involved in a motoring accident, the law requires you to stop after the accident and exchange correct personal details with any person who has reasonable grounds to request them.
How do I know whether I have been involved in a motoring accident ? you have been involved in a road traffic accident, if it has caused damage to a vehicle or property, or injury to a person or animal (other than an animal in a vehicle)
Does that mean if I hit any animal I must report it ? No, for these purposes “animal” means horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog.
What else do I need to do ? If details are exchanged you don’t need to do anything else to satisfy the legal requirements. However, If details aren’t exchanged you must report to the police as soon as reasonably practicable (as quickly as is reasonably possible) . You only have 24 hours to do this or you will be committing a motoring offence of failing to stop and report.
Many of you will be reading this information because you haven’t stopped or reported the accident and you are worrying about what can happen next. The chances are the police will want to speak to you and you will ordinarily be invited into a police station to discuss this. (see article on attending police station as a volunteer)
Why do I need a solicitor for a police interview? Of course you can go on your own but why would you ? We are experts and we are free. We are free because we hold a government contract to give free legal advice and assistance at the police station. At Levins we regularly attend police stations to represent people on road traffic matters and you will be in safe hands.
What if the dreaded summons has already landed ? Call us – again we will offer a free initial telephone consultation with an experienced solicitor who will discuss your case with you. If you do wish to instruct us to represent you in the Magistrates Court we will consider with you whether you are eligible for legal aid. If you are not, we will provide you with a clear fixed fee quote with no hidden extras.
Do I plead guilty in court ? That all depends on whether you have a defence. We will explore potential defences with you. Did you know (or should have known) an accident had taken place ? Where you the driver of the vehicle ? Did you return to the scene immediately after the incident ? Did you report the accident to the police station “as soon as was reasonably practicable” ?
What are the penalties for failing to stop? If you are convicted of failing to stop failing to report, the maximum penalty is a fine of up to £5,000, or six months’ imprisonment. The Magistrates could impose a community penalty or even a curfew if they think the case is serious enough for that kind of sentence. A custodial sentence is unusual and will be reserved for the most serious of cases. The case can only be heard in the Magistrates Court so unless you face other charges this matter cannot be heard in the Crown Court.
The court will also impose 5–10 penalty points on your licence. If you have points on your licence this could result in totting and a driving ban could follow. The court also has a discretion to impose an immediate disqualification from driving if they believe that the case is so serious.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org