Failing to stop and failing to report an accident.
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Failing to stop and failing to report to a Police Station after an accident.
If an accident takes place and either damage or personal injury is caused then the driver of the vehicle at the time is required to stop at the scene of the accident and make him or herself available to anybody else who may need their details and their insurance policy number.
To fail to stop at the scene of an accident is an offence under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
There is a further obligation (even if you do stop and provide your details) to report any accident that results in injury or damage to a Police Station as soon as reasonably practicable and in any case within a maximum of 24 hours.
Failing to report an accident is again another offence under section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
The potential sentence in relation to these offences is onerous. That is because when they were originally bought in to effect it was anticipated that these offences would deal with incidents of hit and run. For example hitting someone on a zebra crossing and then driving away.
Most of the cases we deal with involve bumps and scrapes in supermarket car parks when our clients tell us that they were not even aware that an accident had taken place. Therefore, whilst the sentences are potentially onerous in the vast majority of cases, the offences will be dealt with simply by points and fines.
The penalty point range for these offences is 5 to10. If both of these offences occur in relation to the same incident then the offences are treated as occurring on the same occasion. That means that if you get a Summons for both offences you are only at risk of points for one of the offences rather than both.
Having said that, 5 to 10 points on your licence is onerous and if you have been accused of this offence then you should send an email asking for further advice.
The fines involved can be anywhere up to £5,000 and the level imposed will be affected by the seriousness of the offence and your personal circumstances.
In the worse case scenario, as outlined above, these offences can be dealt with by way of a prison sentence of up to 6 months. Again that would only be the case if somebody was badly injured and the Defendant drove away after being aware that an accident had taken place.
You can defend these allegations. You would have a defence if you were not the driver at the time of the alleged offence. You would have a defence if you were not driving on a road or in a public place at the time when the accident occurred.
You would have a defence if you could show that you had stopped at the time of the alleged offence and that you had reported the incident in question. The most common defence raised is that the driver of a vehicle was unaware that an accident had taken place. Obviously the more dramatic the impact involved and the level of damage caused the more likely it is that would not have known that an accident had taken place. If you can genuinely argue that you were unaware that an accident had taken place then you have a defence to both of these allegations.
If you are not aware of an accident at the time when it occurs but you become aware of the accident within 24 hours of it taking place you are then under a duty to report the accident as if you had known about it in the first place.
The Prosecution have to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that damage or injury was caused. If they can't prove this, then you will be able to defend it.
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