Failing to stop after a road accident

Not everyone knows what to do in the event of an accident on the roads, and you can easily find yourself facing a charge for an offence you weren’t aware of, such as failing to stop.

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What counts as failing to stop after an accident?

In the event of an accident, a driver has a duty to stop and provide information, such as insurance details,  if they are involved in a road traffic accident, whether it has caused damage to a vehicle or property, or injury to a person. 

In 2017, according to national statistics, 2,762 people in England and Wales were found guilty of failing to stop. 

The penalties for failing to stop and failing to report an accident are intended to deter drivers from leaving the scene of an accident, but there are defences that can be made against the charge.

If a person has been injured, the driver responsible for causing the accident must report it to the police within 24 hours.

You can be charged with the offence of failing to stop after an accident in a number of circumstances:

  • If you stop but don’t remain at the scene of the accident long enough to provide sufficient details about yourself and your vehicle.
  • If you don’t provide details when asked by any person in the vicinity of the accident.
  • If you fail to stop when the accident occurs, and only return to the scene later.

You can be judged to have failed to report an accident if:

  • You were involved in an accident but did not report the accident within 24 hours of it occurring.
  • The report of the accident was not made in person – a telephone call, usually, will not be sufficient.

What are the penalties for failing to stop?

In the event that you are found guilty of failing to stop at the scene of an accident or failing to report an accident, the maximum penalty is a fine of up to £5,000, or six months’ imprisonment.

The severity of the penalty is at the discretion of the court and will depend upon the seriousness of the offence, and whether or not there are mitigating circumstances, such as genuine fear of retribution from other drivers. Imprisonment is uncommon except in the most serious cases.

However, anyone found guilty of failing to stop will receive 5–10 penalty points on their licence, and a disqualification from driving will be at the discretion of the court.

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What are the defences to the charge of failing to stop?

There are various potential defences – for example, if you were unaware that an accident had occurred, the conviction might be dropped.

There may also be doubt over the length of time you waited before leaving the scene of an accident. A solicitor may choose to build a defence around this point if the evidence is disputable.

I’ve been told I failed to stop – what should I do?

If you have been informed by the police that you have committed an offence due to failing to stop or failing to report an accident, then we advise you seek legal help as soon as possible.

At First4Lawyers, our solicitors have experience in defending these charges. If you contact us at the earliest possible stage, we’ll be in the best position to gather information and build your defence.

No matter what your query or circumstances, our specialist lawyers will be happy to speak to you. Get in touch today.

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