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

Legal Rules If Involved in a Traffic Accident

Author: Garry Crystal - Updated: 28 July 2015 | commentsComment
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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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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