Blackfords LLP

Failing to stop after or report an accident

The Road Traffic Act 1988 s 170 (2) states that it is an offence for a driver of a vehicle to fail to stop and give their details when involved in an accident that has caused either damage or injury to someone other than the driver or their vehicle.

The driver is required to give correct details to enable prompt communication and failure to do so is an offence. It is irrelevant whose fault the accident might be and the law requires that you must stop “at the scene” of the accident. If you revisit the scene after initially driving away, even for a short time you may still have committed an offence.

If for some reason you fail to stop after being involved in an accident, or fail to exchange details, you must report the incident to the police as soon as reasonably practical and in any event within 24 hours of the time of the accident. The report must be made at a Police Station or to a police officer; a phone call will not necessarily be acceptable. If you fail to do this “as soon as practicable” and within the 24 hour period then it could result in a conviction. The court will decide what is “reasonably practicable”.

What are the penalties for failing to stop after an accident or reporting an accident?

A Magistrates’ Court may impose:

  • An unlimited fine and/or a prison sentence of up to 6 months
  • Must endorse and may disqualify
  • If no disqualification impose 5-10 points
  • Extended disqualification if imposing custody

Are there any defences?

You are required to stop or report any accident of which you are aware. However, if you have been charged with failing to stop or report, there are potential defences available, for example, if the court is satisfied that you did not know an accident had occurred or you may have stopped at the scene but could not exchange details with any other party and only left after a reasonable period of time.

What can we do for you?

If you are not guilty of failing to stop after or a report and accident, you will need a lawyer to advance your defence before the Magistrates’ Court. If you are guilty using one of our lawyers to advance expert mitigation on your behalf will usually have a positive effect on minimising any period of disqualification, the number of penalty points that might be imposed, the financial penalty that will be ordered or avoiding a custodial sentence. We can also advise on whether an exceptional hardship application could be advanced to persuade the court not to impose a disqualification where it normally would be mandatory for example, where you have reached 12 penalty points on your driving licence.


We can advise and assist you upon all such aspects.

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