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Failing to Report an Accident or Stop and Exchange Details

Failing to stop and exchange details or report an accident after being involved in a collision that caused personal injury, vehicle damage, or property damage is an offence under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 in the UK.

If you have been involved in a road traffic collision, no matter how minor, and you have failed to stop and exchange details with the other driver of the vehicle, injured person or owner of the damaged property, or failed to report the accident if that was not possible, then you may be guilty of an offence.

This is an offence that can be deemed serious by the court. Not only are you at risk of penalty points or a disqualification from driving, but you can also receive a fine, community order or in the most serious cases, imprisonment.

Drivers should be aware that: 

  • If you’re unable to stop and exchange details at the scene, the accident must be reported to the police within 24 hours. Failing to report an accident to the police can result in serious penalties.
  • Possible defences include proving there was no collision/damage/injury, claiming unawareness of causing damage/injury, showing that you did properly stop/report, or addressing allegations related to failing to stop and failing to report.
  • If sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution requiring driver information, you must respond within 28 days even if not admitting guilt, to avoid a separate offence.
  • Penalties can include fines, community orders, points on licence, driving disqualification, or potentially prison for the most serious cases based on harm and culpability assessments.
  • Courts consider aggravating and mitigating factors like remorse, character and attempt to comply when determining the sentence.

Expert Legal Guidance for Failing To Report An Accident Or Stop 

At Caddick Davies Solicitors, we understand the impact that any motoring offence charge can have. If you are facing a charge as a result of failing to report an accident or stop and exchange details, we can help you understand the process and explore all available defences and mitigating circumstances that could potentially reduce the severity of the penalties you face.


Facing a charge of failing to report an accident? Contact Caddick Davies Solicitors today 

You can contact our office for a free consultation on 0151 944 4967.

Read on for a thorough overview of the legal responsibilities, potential defences, and penalties related to failing to stop and report accidents in the UK.

Situations Requiring You to Stop After an Accident

report accident to the police

If you have been involved in a road traffic collision, no matter how minor, and you have failed to stop and exchange details with the other driver of the vehicle, injured person or owner of the damaged property, or failed to report the accident if that was not possible, then you may be guilty of an offence.

It is important that you always stop after an accident or report it to the police. In failing to do so, you risk the consequences becoming much more serious.

Pursuant to Section 170(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 the requirement to stop and exchange details following a collision is triggered by:

  1. Personal injury to another person or;
  2. Damage to another vehicle or another person’s property.

This means that you are not required to stop if only you are injured or if only your vehicle/property is damaged. In the majority of cases, the driver’s vehicle/property is unlikely to be the only damage caused.

The requirement is therefore not limited to injury to a person or damage to a vehicle but can also include damage to roadside furniture e.g. signs and fences. It also includes hitting an animal.

Consequences of Stopping Without Exchanging Details

An offence of failing to stop is still constituted even if you stopped but did not exchange details. You must do both. The details that you are required to exchange are:

  1. Your name.
  2. Your address.
  3. The identification marks of the vehicle.
  4. If you are not the owner of the vehicle, the name and address of the owner.

It is also important to exchange insurance details with the other person.

Reporting Requirements If Unable to Stop

If it has not been possible to stop and exchange details at the scene of the collision, then pursuant to Section 170(6) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 you must report the incident to police within 24-hour hours or as soon as reasonably practicable, whichever falls sooner.

It may not be possible because:

  1. There is no one to stop and exchange details with e.g. if you crashed into a parked car or property and cannot find the owner.
  2. There was no safe or legal place to stop.

Anyone who fails to report an incident to police within that time period, where it was not possible to stop and exchange details, is guilty of an offence pursuant to Section 170(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

You can make a report by going to the police station, by informing a police officer or online.

Potential Defences Against Charges 

If you are unsure if you have been involved in a road traffic collision, or genuinely do not believe that you were involved, then you can put the prosecution to prove that (a) a collision occurred and (b) that damage or injury occurred as a result of that collision.

Prosecution’s Burden of Proof

Once you have raised this trial issue in court, the Prosecution is required to prove, evidentially, that you caused a collision that resulted in damage or injury. The Prosecution must be able to prove this beyond reasonable doubt.

Defence of Being Unaware of Causing Damage/Injury

If the Prosecution can prove that damage or injury was caused, and if the court is satisfied that you were the driver that caused it, then you can seek to defend the charge still on the grounds that you were genuinely unaware of any accident causing damage or injury pursuant to the case of Hardy v Price [1948]. The burden of proof is on the defence to prove this on the balance of probabilities, meaning more likely than not.

Dealing with Minor Collisions

It is not always obvious when you have been involved in a collision, or at least a collision causing damage or injury, and this can often involve minor collisions in car parks or parked cars. In such circumstances, it is more likely that a driver will drive away without stopping to exchange details or report the incident – as they may not realise that they have done something wrong. It is those people who may be more likely to successfully defend the charge in court.

Stopped/Reported But Still Charged? Defences Are Available? 

It may be that you did stop and exchange details or did report the incident and have still been charged – you too have a valid defence. There are many ways you can seek to defend such a charge, these include technical legal arguments, and also factual defences, which may include the following:

  1. I was not involved in an accident;
  2. There was no damage caused;
  3. I stopped or reported the accident; and
  4. I was unaware of any accident causing damage/injury, such that I was not aware that I should stop or report the accident.

Understanding Notices of Intended Prosecution

A notice of intended prosecution is issued by the police under Section 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. It is a notice that informs an individual that the police are considering prosecution for an alleged motoring offence connected to a specific vehicle. However, that does not always mean that you will be prosecuted.

This notice is usually sent combined with a request for drivers’ information. A request for drivers’ information is provided for by Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and requires the person to respond to that notice, nominating the driver of the vehicle.

Process for Receiving Notices

The police will send the notice to the registered keeper to start their line of enquiry. In accordance with Section 1(1)(c) of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 a notice of intended prosecution and/or request for drivers’ information must be received by the registered keeper within 14 days of the alleged offence unless that person did not correctly update their logbook for their vehicle when moving addresses.

If you are not the registered keeper of the vehicle and have been nominated by someone else, then this rule also does not apply.

How Do I Respond To The Request For Drivers Information?

If you have received a notice of intended prosecution and/or a request for drivers’ information it is important that you respond to that notice within the required 28-day period, even if you are not the driver or if you do not recognise the vehicle in question.

If you fail to meet this deadline, you could be prosecuted for the offence of ‘failing to provide driver information’. This carries the risk of 6 penalty points and a fine of up to £1000. If you have ignored this letter, you are guilty of such an offence.

If you were the driver of the vehicle on the date/time in question and in the specified location you should respond nominating yourself as the driver of the vehicle. In doing so you would not be admitting guilt to the offence, but simply that you were driving on that road on that date/time. You can seek to challenge any offence that you are charged with thereafter.

With such offences, the police might ask you to provide a written account or explanation in the process of asking you to respond and nominate the driver. You do not have to respond with any account but if you do not recall or dispute any collision taking place, you should state so. This will help with credibility should you need to defend the charge at a later date.

Find out more: Notices of intended prosecution/requests for drivers’ information 

Penalties For Failing To Report An Accident Or Failing To Stop And Exchange Details 

If you are guilty of either offence, the penalty you face is as follows:

Level of Seriousness Starting Point Sentence Driving Endorsement
Category 1 High-Level Community Order Low-Level Community Order – 26 weeks prison sentence 6 – 12 disqualification from driving OR 9 – 10 points
Category 2 Band C fine Band B fine – Medium-level community order Up to 6 months disqualification OR 7 – 8 points
Category 3 Band B fine Band A fine – Band C fine 5 – 6 points

You will receive points or a disqualification and a fine, community order or a prison sentence for such an offence. Depending upon what sentence you receive, will depend upon what category you fall in.

Categories Used to Determine Penalties In Failure To Stop & Report Offences

The Court will determine the offence category by using the below table:

Harm Level Culpability Level
Category 1 High High
Category 2 Low but high culpability Low but high harm
Category 3 Low Low

An offence will be treated as having high culpability if one or more of the below factors are present:

  1. Offence committed in circumstances where a request for a sample of breath, blood or urine would have been made had the offender stopped
  2. Offence committed by offender seeking to avoid arrest for another offence
  3. The offender knew or suspected that personal injury caused and/or left the injured party at the scene of the accident
  4. Giving false details

An offence will be treated as having high harm if one or more of the below factors are present:

  1. Injury caused
  2. Significant damage

What is a Community Order?

A community order can include things such as:

  1. Unpaid work in the community (up to 300 hours).
  2. Court-ordered rehabilitation sessions (e.g. addressed at mental health, drug/alcohol issues).
  3. Curfew requirement up to 16 hours for 4 – 12 months.
  4. Exclusion requirement lasting up to 12 months.

When is Prison Time Imposed For The Offence Of Failure To Report An Accident?

A custodial sentence must not be imposed unless the offence or the combination of the offence and one or more offences associated with it is so serious that neither a fine alone nor a community sentence can be justified for the offence. The court should only impose such a sentence as a punishment for the most serious offences e.g. numerous aggravating factors.

The Court can however “suspend” a prison sentence due to mitigating circumstances, or if it is deemed appropriate to do so. A suspended prison sentence means that the offender will not be required to go to prison and serve the sentence unless they commit a further offence within a set period. That person may also be required to undergo supervision by the probation services and may have to take part in a community order.

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors: What Else Will The Court Consider?

legal defence

The Court will also consider the below further aggravating factors:

  1. Previous convictions
  2. Offences committed whilst on bail
  3. Little or no attempt to stop/report
  4. Evidence of bad driving

The Court will also consider the below-mitigating factors:

  1. No previous convictions or relevant convictions
  2. Remorse
  3. Good character
  4. Genuine fear of retribution
  5. Significant attempts made to comply with the duty
  6. Serious medical conditions requiring urgent, intensive or long-term treatment
  7. Lack of maturity of the offender (typically aged 18-25)
  8. Sole or primary carer for a dependent relative
  9. Mental disorder or learning disability
  10. Pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care
  11. Difficult and/or deprived background or personal circumstances
  12. Prospects of or in work, training, and education

Summary Of Failure To Stop & Provide Details Offences 

In summary, failing to stop and exchange details or report an accident after being involved in

a collision resulting in injury, vehicle damage, or property damage is a serious offence under UK law.

Drivers have a legal responsibility to take these actions, with limited exceptions. While potential defences exist, the penalties for violation can be severe – including fines, points on your licence, disqualification from driving, community orders, or even prison time for the most egregious cases.

The courts assess the seriousness based on factors like harm caused and culpability level. They also weigh aggravating and mitigating factors when determining sentences.

Given the complexities involved, if you face charges related to a failure to stop or report an accident, it’s crucial to consult an experienced legal professional who can evaluate your case, protect your rights, and present the strongest possible defence on your behalf.

Get Professional Legal Assistance With Failure To Report Cases 

At Caddick Davies Solicitors, we have a team of specialist motor defence lawyers who are experts in preparing cases, defending charges, and presenting mitigation in court in order to avoid or reduce the sentence imposed. We understand the complexities of these cases and have a proven track record of successfully assisting clients in these cases.

From the most straightforward to the most intricate cases, we are dedicated to providing personalised support and guidance. We begin every enquiry with an informal discussion to gain a thorough understanding of your unique circumstances and to address any questions you may have in complete confidence.

If you believe that you have a defence or mitigating circumstances that should be considered in your case, please do not hesitate to contact our office for a free consultation at 0151 944 4967.

Motoring Lawyer at Caddick Davies Solicitors
Caddick Davies is recognised as one of England and Wales’ leading motoring law firms, offering specialist Speeding Solicitors, Drink Driving Solicitors & Dangerous Driving Solicitors.We provide advice and representation on all motoring offences including speeding, the avoidance of disqualification on penalty points or “totting up” (exceptional hardship), driving without due care and attention (careless driving), dangerous driving, drink driving, as well as a range of services related to medical revocation of a driving licence.
Neil Davies

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