Failure to Stop After an Accident and Failure to Report an Accident

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Failure to Stop After an Accident and Failure to Report an Accident

“Failure to stop” occurs when, due to the presence of a vehicle on a road, an accident has occurred and the owner of the vehicle fails to stop at the scene, and when he or she is required to do so, does not exchange or provide their details.

Case study

Our client was accused of failure to stop and failure to report an accident. He had been driving a large vehicle and had scraped another car while passing it in traffic. He had not known that he had damaged or even touched the other, smaller car, and had therefore not known to stop.

We presented this to the court, and prepared the case for trial. This included bringing character witnesses for our client to court.

Verdict after trial: Not Guilty

The Law on Failure to Stop

The offence of failing to stop is also likely to be made out even if the driver of the vehicle stops momentarily but fails to provide sufficient details to allow for the identity of the owner of the vehicle to be ascertained.

The driver of a vehicle who stops after an accident but does not provide details when asked, by the driver of the other vehicle, or any other person in the vicinity, it is possible for the charge of failing to stop to be made out.

If the driver of the vehicle fails to stop after a collision but then returns to the scene later, it may still be possible for him/her to be guilty of the offence. The pivotal issue is centred on the particular circumstances in existence at the time.

The court, in deciding whether a person is guilty of the offence may consider factors such as the reason for departure, duration of the delay and return, knowledge of the accident and the cause of the failure.

This obligation to stop will only exist if the driver knows or should have known that an accident had taken place. Invariably, a loud bang or significant movement is a clear indicator of knowledge. If this is proven, the motorist must prove that on the balance of probabilities that he was oblivious to the accident.

Failing to report an accident

The driver of a motor vehicle, who has been involved in an accident and failed to stop and exchange particulars, has a duty to report the accident to the police within 24 hours. This 24-hour period begins from the time of the alleged incident.

There is no requirement for the motorist to report the accident to the police if he or she has stopped after the accident and exchanged particulars with the other motorist, or provided details at the scene of the incident.

Any report made to the police, needs to be made in person and a simple phone call will not be sufficient. Similarly, the report will have to be made within the stipulated 24 hour period or as soon as reasonably practicable after the incident.

Sentencing

Parliament has acknowledged the seriousness of the above offences and as a consequence, the maximum penalty for failing to stop or for failing to report is a fine not exceeding $10,000 and/ or 6 months imprisonment, although prison is unlikely except in very serious cases.

If someone is found guilty of the above offences, his or her license will also bear a loss of 7 demerit points. Disqualification is at the discretion of the court and will depend on the seriousness of the offence or if there are mitigating or aggravating factors.

Further note

If you are summoned to court for the above offences, we would always recommend securing the services of a paralegal. Even if the evidence is strong, a conviction for the above offences can often not mean losing one’s license, and, where charges are made in respect of both failure to stop and failure to report, the prosecution can often be persuaded to drop one, if not both the charges.

“Failure to stop” occurs when, due to the presence of a vehicle on a road, an accident has occurred and the owner of the vehicle fails to stop at the scene, and when he or she is required to do so, does not exchange or provide their details.