Failing to Stop and / or Failing to Report
How is this offence committed?
If you have been driving and are involved in an accident, in which there is damage to someone else’s property or injury to another person, then you are under a duty to stop your vehicle and provide your details to anyone reasonably requiring them. You should give your name and address as well as those of the owner of the vehicle. If for any reason you don’t provide these details at the scene you are under a duty to report the matter to the police as soon as practicable and in any event within 24 hours.
Defences to this charge
The most common defence is that the motorist did not realise s/he had been involved in an accident. Typically a motorist might be accused of clipping someone’s wing mirror or causing a scratch in a car park and driving off without stopping. If the motorist genuinely had no idea that s/he had been involved in an accident this is a valid defence. However, if the evidence shows that, for example, there was a loud bang, or for some other reasons the motorist should have been aware, then the motorist may have difficulty persuading a court that s/he did not know of the accident. Claiming that the other party was at fault for the incident is not a defence in law.
How serious are these offences?
The penalties can include, in a very serious case up to 6 months prison, a community sentence or an unlimited fine as well as 5 – 10 penalty points or, if points are not endorsed, an immediate disqualification. Conviction means a motorist will have a criminal record. The imposition of penalty points can itself result in a penalty points disqualification of 6 months or more if the motorist already has relevant penalty points endorsed on his or her driving licence. Often this offence is charged together with other offences such as careless driving.
What can be done if facing such a charge?
The first thing that should be done is to fully assess all of the evidence and relevant circumstances in order to decide whether to admit or deny the allegation. If the matter is to be denied it is important that the legal and evidential hurdles are understood and that the correct preparatory steps are taken as early as possible. On the other hand, if the reality is that the evidence is strong there may be little gained and much to lose by contesting the case. One could lose all sympathy with a court and potentially one’s best chance of avoiding disqualification by contesting a case and being disbelieved on oath.
If you consult us you will have the benefit of a very experienced trial lawyer who can assist you to weigh up all the pros and cons in the light of the evidence and your personal circumstances. Whether you wish to deny the allegation and go to trial or admit it and seek the most lenient penalty possible, we will advise you so that you can make an informed decision in your best interests.