Failing to stop after an accident – am I in trouble?

Nick Titchener headshot

Nick Titchener

Managing Partner

In Brief

Have you been involved in a car accident and failed to stop? The consequences of this offence can have a significant impact on your life and your ability to drive in future. If you are accused of failure to stop after an accident, you should seek specialist legal advice as soon as you are able to, in order to ensure a robust defence and the best possible outcome in your individual case.

Failing to stop at the scene of an accident you are involved in becomes a criminal offence if you know or suspect that a person or animal has been injured, or if damage to another vehicle or to property (such as a building or wall) has occurred.

What happens if I fail to stop after an accident?

If you are involved in an accident where one or more of the above applies and you do not stop your vehicle at the scene, you are committing a criminal offence. According to the Road Traffic Act 1988 you are obliged to make reasonable endeavours to exchange details with other drivers involved or the owner of the property. You should also inform the police and your insurer within 24 hours regardless of whether you plan to make a claim. 

Failure to stop after an accident and failing to report an accident are separate offences but often go hand-in-hand and can be charged together. Both are taken extremely seriously by the courts.

If you have recently been involved in an accident and failed to stop your vehicle at the scene then it is very likely that the registered owner of the vehicle will receive an NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution). Failure to provide details of the driver within 28 days of receipt of an NIP can lead to arrest and the police may wish to interview you as a suspect.

I panicked after an accident and drove away from the scene. What can I do?

There are a number of reasons why someone may drive away from the scene of an accident, and in the vast majority of cases it is done deliberately, in full knowledge of injury or damage caused. However, if you have driven away after an accident and wish to address the situation promptly, it is crucial that you contact the police as soon as possible by calling the non-emergency police number 101.

If you have been formally charged with failing to stop after an accident then you should seek legal advice immediately.

What are the consequences of failing to stop after an accident?

Failing to stop after an accident is a serious offence that can attract penalty points as well as a financial penalty. In extreme cases, the courts may decide to impose a disqualification from driving and a term of up to 6 months’ imprisonment.

What defence is there for failure to stop after an accident?

First of all, it must be you that was driving. If you weren’t driving the car at the time of the accident, you have no case to answer.

Then, the prosecution must prove that injury or damage was caused by the accident. If there was no injury or damage, you had no legal obligation to stop at the scene.

It could be that you weren’t aware of the accident occurring at all, such as not hearing or seeing anything. This is more common when the accident was minor.

Perhaps you did stop at the scene, but nobody was there to exchange details with, or maybe another driver’s aggression prevented you from stopping.

Of course, if you can prove that you did stop at the scene and exchange details, the case will go no further.

Have you been accused of failing to stop after an accident? 

In order to ensure the best possible outcome in your case, it is extremely important that you seek expert legal advice as soon as possible. The team of experienced solicitors at Lawtons have a wide knowledge of dealing with this type of offence and will work closely with you to build the strongest possible defence. 

Contact us today by calling 0333 577 0522 to find out how we can help you.

Note: This guide is intended to give general information only and not intended to be used as the basis upon which advice is given nor should it be relied upon as giving advice specific to a case or individual.

Lawtons do not accept liability for anyone using this guide. Should you require specific advice in connection with a real case or situation, please contact us so we can provide specific legal advice and assistance.

About the author

As director and solicitor advocate of Lawtons, Nick Titchener oversees the day-to-day management of this established and respected firm of solicitors. 

He is an experienced and highly dedicated criminal solicitor whose methodical, careful approach has brought him years of expertise in dealing with some of the most difficult offences including sexual violence and assault.

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