Home > Driver Offences > Legal Rules If Involved in a Traffic Accident

Legal Rules If Involved in a Traffic Accident

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 6 Jul 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Failing To Stop Drivers Police

In the UK it is an offence if a driver fails to stop if involved in a traffic accident. The punishment for this offence can be severe, and drivers should be aware of the legal rules if involved in a traffic accident.

Failing to Stop at the Scene of an Accident

Failing to stop if involved in an accident is considered a very serious offence by the courts. In fact, failure to stop and failure to report an accident are both serious traffic offences. Any driver who is involved in a traffic accident and does not exchange details with the other driver can face prosecution. Drivers who have been involved in an accident have a legal obligation to stop and identify themselves. This is the case whether the driver actually caused the accident or not.

Reporting a Road Traffic Accident to the Police

There may be reasons why a driver has failed to stop at the scene of an accident. This could be due to the other driver becoming hostile. If this is the case then the driver should report the accident to the police within 24 hours. Even if the driver has reported the accident after failing to stop they can still be charged. It will then be up to the courts to decide whether or not the driver was correct in leaving the scene.

What Constitutes a Road Traffic Accident?

A driver does not have to be involved in an accident with another vehicle for it to be considered a road traffic accident. Damage to property, hitting furniture on the road or an animal can all constitute road traffic accidents. Many drivers are unaware that these situations can be classed as road traffic accidents. The courts will not usually view lack of knowledge of what constitutes a road traffic accident as a defence. The courts may assess the validity of why the driver left the scene of the accident when making their decision.

Punishments for Leaving or Failing to Report a Road Traffic Accident

As two of the more serious road traffic offences there are severe punishments involved if the driver is found guilty. Failure to stop at the scene of an accident and failure to report an accident can both result in driving disqualifications. Both of these offences can result in the driver having up to 10 penalty points applied to his or her licence. A fine of up to £5000 can also be applied. Drivers found guilty of either of these traffic offences can also be sentenced to up to six months in prison, although this is rare.

Legal Obligations When Involved in a Traffic Accident

There are a number of legal rules for those who are involved in a traffic accident including:

  • Anyone involved in a traffic accident must stop at the scene
  • Drivers should identity themselves to other drivers involved
  • Personal details and insurance details should be exchanged whether a collision was involved or not
  • If an accident did occur, name and address details must be exchanged regardless of who caused the accident
  • Drivers who do not stop at the scene must report the accident to the police within 24 hours
  • Failure to report will have occurred if a driver fails to report an accident within 24 hours
  • A driver who fails to stop but then returns to the scene can still be found guilty of failing to stop
  • Reports to the police will be required in person; a telephone call will not be sufficient

Legal Representation if Charged with Failing to Stop or Report

Failure to stop if involved in an accident and failure to report an accident are very serious offences. Both of these offences can come with severe punishment and legal representation should always be taken if charged. If a driver is charged with both of these offences a lawyer may be able to have one of the charges dropped, in some cases both. Having legal representation can also help to limit the chances of a disqualification.

It is the legal duty of a driver to stop if involved in a traffic accident or to report that an accident has taken place. Prison sentences are very rare for this type of offence and disqualifications will come under the court’s discretion. Driver’s who are found guilty will have between 5 and 10 penalty points applied to their licence.

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[Add a Comment]
Today I was hit by a car it was parked in traffic on seeing me he turned his wheel and put his foot on the gas. He hit me and left the scene a ambulance was called police attended I knew the man and there was three whitnesses 2 of which identified the man police was told but he has not been seen as the officer who attended went off shift and is only back in Friday is this correct
Kie - 6-Jul-16 @ 12:37 AM
Parry - Your Question:
Oncoming Third Party swerved onto my side of the carriageway and hit me head on pushing me into a vehicle travelling at the side of me. TP driver told a witness she was bending down to pick up her phone, then told me in front of a paramedic she blacked out. Police have told me they dont need a formal statement from me or the witnesses because she told them that she doesnt remember what happened but it was her fault. As she admitted liability they are sending her on a driver awareness course and she won't be prosecuted. My car is a Lexus new in February this year and it's probably a write off as is the vehicle she pushede in to. I am injured and will lose at least 3 weeks work. Plus of course there is every chance she has invalidated her insurance by admitting liability. Is there any way I can push for her to be prosecuted ? This happened this morning and police are going back to interview her tomorrow

Our Response:
You can't really influence the police decision, but there is nothing to stop you taking your own action for compensation. It's very strange that they would not interview you or the witness. If the third party says she had a blackout however, she will be sent for a medical/ be stopped from driving until the results are in.
NoPenaltyPoints - 5-Jul-16 @ 2:38 PM
Oncoming Third Party swerved onto my side of the carriageway and hit me head on pushing me into a vehicle travelling at the side of me. TP driver told a witness she was bending down to pick up her phone, then told me in front of a paramedic she blacked out. Police have told me they dont need a formal statement from me or the witnessesbecause she told them that she doesnt remember what happened but it was her fault.As she admitted liability they are sending her on a driver awareness course and she won't be prosecuted. My car is a Lexus new in February this year and it's probably a write off as is the vehicle she pushede in to. I am injured and will lose at least 3 weeks work. Plus of course there is every chance she has invalidated her insurance by admitting liability. Is there any way I can push for her to be prosecuted ? This happened this morning and police are going back to interview her tomorrow
Parry - 4-Jul-16 @ 6:05 PM
Hi there My wife and i wereout a run on the bike went to Jedburgh Scotlanda drunk driver swerved over our side of the road. So i spun the bike around caught up with him at road works controlled by lightsi stopped the bike in front of himput it in the side stand and got off leaving the wife on the back of the bike. As I calmly walked to the drivers side of the car he put his foot down drove into the bike knocked it over with the wife still on it he then pushed the bike about 20ft along the road with the wife Insurance are passing this case around solicitors after 11 phone calls to themstill no further forward on getting bike repairedI am insured fully comp.company is MCE Insurance. Any advicethanks
Kevo - 11-May-16 @ 11:24 PM
Tbt - Your Question:
One car runs into the back of another at zebra crossing.Whats the law about the front car driver, hardly injured leaving scene of accident but leaving crashed car in situ while passenger deals with other driver?

Our Response:
Sometimes a driver will be taken away for medical check ups etc. Usually the police will be aware of/acknowledge this in their reports.
NoPenaltyPoints - 4-May-16 @ 11:04 AM
One car runs into the back of another at zebra crossing.Whats the law about the front cardriver, hardly injured leaving scene of accident but leaving crashed car in situ while passenger deals with other driver?
Tbt - 1-May-16 @ 11:09 AM
I received a notice from the police of intended prosecution. The offences were driving without due care and attention, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to report it. The alleged accident happened in a supermarket car park but I do not recall bumping into anything. On inspecting my car after receiving the letter, I saw that there was a slight scratch on my rear bumper. I am guessing this is the 'accident' they are referring to but am not sure. Can you help?
Vivien - 27-Mar-16 @ 4:06 PM
towndrowmatt - Your Question:
Back in August I was hit from behind by a driver who then failed to stop. My passenger called the police as we then followed her for a couple of miles. Eventually she pulled over into a layby and got out the car. Not only could we tell straight away she had been drinking but she also confessed to me that she had. When I asked for her insurance details she refused got back in her car and pulled out into traffic nearly causing another accident. We tried to follow but was unable to keep up with her due to busy roads. Luckily a friend of mine on a motor bike had stopped whilst we were in the layby and was able to follow here back to her house. By the time we arrived (5min later) the police had attended and arrested her. I have since learned she has pleaded not guilty to DUI even though she gave a positive sample at the station (she only had a drink when she got in) police are not interested in either myself or passenger being a witness, haven't even been asked for a statement. They are not even looking to prosecute for her leaving the scene of accident or failing to provide details. On top of it all despite her admitting fault to her insurance company they are disputing the valuation of my car (Classic Audi) which I've lost as it been classed as a financial write off. Kind of feel screwed over at the moment, any ideas on what I can do?

Our Response:
What kind of result are you looking for? If it's a higher payout for your car/damage then you made need to try and seek compensation directly via the courts/private settlement with the other driver. If you feel the police have not taken this seriously enough, you could make a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)
NoPenaltyPoints - 16-Dec-15 @ 12:39 PM
Back in August I was hit from behind by a driver who then failed to stop. My passenger called the police as we then followed her for a couple of miles. Eventually she pulled over into a layby and got out the car. Not only could we tell straight away she had been drinking but she also confessed to me that she had. When I asked for her insurance details she refused got back in her car and pulled out into traffic nearly causing another accident. We tried to follow but was unable to keep up with her due to busy roads. Luckily a friend of mine on a motor bike had stopped whilst we were in the layby and was able to follow here back to her house. By the time we arrived (5min later) the police had attended and arrested her. I have since learned she has pleaded not guilty to DUI even though she gave a positive sample at the station (she only had a drink when she got in) police are not interested in either myself or passenger being a witness, haven't even been asked for a statement. They are not even looking to prosecute for her leaving the scene of accident or failing to provide details. On top of it all despite her admitting fault to her insurance company they are disputing the valuation of my car (Classic Audi) which I've lost as it been classed as a financial write off. Kind of feel screwed over at the moment, any ideas on what I can do?
towndrowmatt - 15-Dec-15 @ 8:54 PM
Hello I have received an NIP for an alleged offence committed on the 3/11/2015. The offence is driving without due care and attention. The date of issue on the NIP is 1/12/2015 this is clearly over 14 days so is it still inforcebale? Can I reject the notice? Please advise thanks
Robbin - 3-Dec-15 @ 8:27 PM
BM129 - Your Question:
Hello,I was involved in an accident this morning. The accident was caused by another car, who cut me up on a roundabout.The driver drove off and didn't stop, despite causing the accident. I managed to get his license plate number - Should I report it?

Our Response:
If it has damaged your vehicle yes report it. You may need to claim from your insurance.
NoPenaltyPoints - 23-Nov-15 @ 11:22 AM
Hello, I was involved in an accident this morning. The accident was caused by another car, who cut me up on a roundabout. The driver drove off and didn't stop, despite causing the accident. I managed to get his license plate number - Should i report it?
BM129 - 20-Nov-15 @ 10:15 AM
If charged with driving without due care, failure to stop and failure to report is it right that points can only be applied for one of these if found guilty? Please advise
Jellytot - 18-Nov-15 @ 1:51 PM
Omcc - Your Question:
What could happen to 2, 18 year old passengers who were drunk who were in a collision who left the scene

Our Response:
If any damage or injury was caused, the driver must stop at the scene and hand over their details and their insurance information to others present. You should also report an accident that caused injury or damage the police within a 24hours of the incident. The penalties can be severe depending upon whether it can be established that you were drinking(e.g a ban or imprisonment). The offence of failure to report an accident can carry up to 6 points or disqualification.
NoPenaltyPoints - 1-Oct-15 @ 10:19 AM
What could happen to 2, 18 year old passengers who were drunk who were in a collision who left the scene
Omcc - 27-Sep-15 @ 4:01 AM
bluebee - Your Question:
What happens if someone forced me to an emergency stop. They were emerging from parking at the side of the road. They did not indicate. I was driving in the road. I had to stop. My emergency stop hurt my passenger. I don't think she will be hurt in a whiplash kind of way. She just has a sore back. I did stop but the other driver was aggressive and I was more worried about my daughter. Should I report this to the police. There was no collision.

Our Response:
If there was no collision there is not a great deal you can do, but you could report the other driver for careless driving.
NoPenaltyPoints - 23-Sep-15 @ 12:49 PM
What happens if someone forced me to an emergency stop. They were emerging from parking at the side of the road. They did not indicate.I was driving in the road. I had to stop. My emergency stop hurt my passenger. I don't think she will be hurt in a whiplash kind of way. She just has a sore back. I did stop but the other driver was aggressive and I was more worried about my daughter. Should I report this to the police. There was no collision.
bluebee - 21-Sep-15 @ 2:41 PM
After being racially abused the driver threatened to leave me a present... no witnesses.I text my daughter his details and went on to my appointment.When I came back to my car it was apparent he had taken his car down the side of mine.... unbelievable I know... but luckily I have a witness.The police tell me that all they can do is give him a stern talking too.I am totally shocked that someone can do and get away with this.
Dollypop - 28-Jul-15 @ 11:55 AM
After a rear shunt I pilled into a side streetand went waited for the driver in front but he drove off.???
Till - 25-Jul-15 @ 1:04 PM
@Hood. Unfortunately the insurance companies are correct. Unless there is some way to prove that your son arrived first and had already commenced his passage under the bridge before the other vehicle, thenit will be difficult to resolve.
NoPenaltyPoints - 5-Feb-15 @ 10:21 AM
My son was approaching a single way arch in the road it was dark he had right of way a car coming the other way put is foot down sped through the arch and clipped the mirror and off side of his car the driver stopped and started to verbally abuse my son my son called the police all they did was breathalise both drivers and leave they said it wasnt for them to deal with . Our Insurance company now say because there are no witnesses or cctv he mayhave to settle for part blame and pay for his own repairs surely this cant be right can it . I would appreciate you views on this
Hood - 1-Feb-15 @ 8:33 PM
Hi, I was just wondering what would happen to the lady who hit my car the other day? I was parked and fastening my little girls seatbelt when she drove alongside and hit the door of my car breaking off her wingmirror which hit me and wrecked the door of my car? She drove off and it seemed like she had no idea what had happened despite the noise and wreckage left behind! I'm 5 months pregnant too but luckily wasn't hurt - but it could have been soo much worse. Anyway, the police found her at her house and said she was in her 80's and had got herself in a right state when they arrived as she wasn't sure if she hit something or not. Alot of the sympathy seemed to be for this poor old lady and the state she was in! I was just curious what was going to happen to her - would she lose her license, get charged or what? because the police never indicated what the consequences were.I wonder if this had been a 17 yr old in a racer type car would the police have been so sympathetic - or a middle aged man - would he not have been breathalysed and treated a little differently?
Patsy - 30-May-11 @ 1:00 PM
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