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Police Hit And Run Procedure UK – The Facts

UK motorists are legally obliged to stop their vehicle if they are involved in an accident and exchange details with any involved parties in accordance with section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. If you fail to do this, you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident, more commonly known as a hit and run. This is a criminal offence and can carry harsh penalties including disqualification from driving and imprisonment.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about hit and run accidents in the UK, from what the law says about leaving the scene of an accident to the potential penalties involved. We’ll also talk you through the possible defences for hit and runs in the UK, and what you can do if you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

What Happens If You Hit Someone’s Car And Leave?

If your vehicle is involved in a collision, you are legally obliged to stop your vehicle, check for injury and exchange details with any other parties involved. Leaving the scene of an accident is considered a criminal offence that can result in a penalty point endorsement, an unlimited fine, disqualification from driving or even imprisonment.

After a hit and run accident, police will attempt to trace the driver of the vehicle using surveillance cameras, evidence at the scene and witness accounts. This process often enables the police to identify, locate and arrest the suspect for leaving the scene of the accident.

If you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident, we’d always advise seeking specialist legal representation from an experienced motor offence lawyer. With an in-depth understanding of UK road traffic law, they are best placed to assist you in building the strongest possible defence to your charge.

So, what do you need to know if you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident? Read on to learn everything you need to know about hit and run accidents in the UK.


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Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


Hit and run - the law

What The Law Says About Hit And Run Accidents

No one wants to be involved in an accident on the roads. However, if you are involved in a road traffic collision, you are legally obliged to stop your vehicle as set out in section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

You should check for injuries and seek medical assistance for anyone involved in the accident if required. You will then need to exchange personal details including your name, address and insurance details with other parties involved in the accident.

If the accident has resulted in injuries or if there is debris left behind which could pose a risk to other road users, you are also obliged to contact the police, who will attend the scene to provide assistance.

The only exception to this is if the other vehicle involved in unattended. In this case, you should take every reasonable step to locate the owner. If this is not possible, you must report the accident at a police station as soon as practical. This should always be within 24 hours of the accident occurring.

If you fail to stop at the scene of an accident, you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

Is Hit And Run The Same As Leaving The Scene Of An Accident?

Many people wonder what the difference is between a hit and run and leaving the scene of an accident. The fact is, there is essential no difference between these terms as they both refer to failing to report an accident.

‘Leaving the scene of an accident’ is the legal term for the offence, whilst ‘hit and run’ is often the more commonly used term in informal situations. If you drive away from an accident without stopping, exchanging details and helping any victims, you could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. However, if you make sure that you have followed these steps before leaving the scene, you should be in the clear.

Charged with leaving the scene of an accident? Get legal advice here

Why Do Hit And Runs Happen?

Around 17,000 accidents each year in the UK involve a hit and run incident. In fact, according to the MIB, this makes up approximately 12% of all road traffic accidents in the UK that are reported to police.

Human nature means that we are all subject to the fight or flight response in stressful situations. When a collision occurs, your first instinct may be to leave the scene of the accident. However, you are legally obliged to stop your vehicle, seek medical assistance if required and exchange details with other involved parties.

There are many different reasons why a person may leave the scene of an accident, including:

  • Panic
  • Not realising the accident was serious enough to report
  • Driving a stolen vehicle
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Having a suspended driving license
  • Not holding valid insurance

How Long Do I Have To Report A Collision After It Has Happened?

Not every road traffic collision needs to be reported to the police. In the case of minor accidents where all involved parties stop to exchange details, no injuries occur and no debris is left behind, you won’t usually need to report the accident to the police.

Reportable road traffic collisions should be reported to the police as soon as possible and practical. This should always be within 24 hours and should be done in person at your local police station.

Reportable collisions are those that:

  • Involve injuries to people or animals
  • Leave behind debris on the road
  • Cause risk to other road users
  • Where details cannot be exchanged or other parties cannot be identified

Contact Caddick Davies Solicitors today 

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


Hit and run penalty UK

What Is The Penalty For Hit And Run UK?

Drivers who don’t stop at the scene of an accident or fail to report a reportable accident to police could be charged with leaving the scene of an accident – the legal term for a hit and run in the UK. This is a serious conviction with penalties ranging from a fine and penalty endorsement to a disqualification from driving and even imprisonment.

The penalty awarded for a hit and run in the UK usually depends on the severity of the accident and the damage caused. For example, leaving the scene of an accident after scratching another car in a car park will carry a lighter penalty than a hit and run involving a serious injury.

The maximum sentence for leaving the scene of an accident includes:

  • The issue of an unlimited fine
  • An endorsement of up to 10 penalty points
  • Disqualification from driving
  • A maximum term of six months imprisonment

Defences For Failure To Stop

It is possible to defend a charge of leaving the scene of an accident if you have a valid reason. However, this can often be difficult to prove in Court, so it’s important than you have expert legal representation from an experienced motoring offence solicitor.

The defences to this offence include:

  • If you were not driving at the time of the accident
  • You stopped at the time of the accident and exchanged details
  • You reported the accident as soon as practical
  • You had no knowledge that the accident occurred
  • You were not driving on a public road or in a public place at the time of the accident
  • Injury or damage was not caused

The most common defence that is used in this type of case is that the driver was unaware that an accident had occurred. This can sometimes happen when the driver is driving a large vehicle such as an HGV, where it can be difficult to hear or feel if the vehicle collides with another car or object.

To be convicted of this charge, the judge needs to be satisfied that you knew that the accident had taken place. If you were unaware of the occurrence of the accident, you could offer this as a defence.

It’s worth noting that if you were unaware that an accident had occurred, but you became aware of the incident afterwards, you must still report the accident to the police as soon as possible and practical.

Charged with leaving the scene of an accident? Get legal advice here

Do The Police Prosecute Hit And Run In Every Case?

When a hit and run incident occurs, the police will do everything possible to trace the driver involved, using surveillance cameras, evidence from the scene and witness accounts. Wherever there is enough evidence, the police will try and prosecute to secure a conviction, especially in major collisions which have caused significant damage and resulted in injuries.

However, every case is judged individually and will be dependent on the individual circumstances. In cases of minor collisions, the police may sometimes choose not to prosecute and to simply refer the case to insurance.

What to do in a hit and run

What To Do If You Are Involved In A Hit And Run

No one wants to be involved in an accident. However, if you are involved in a road traffic collision, you should stop your vehicle, check for any injuries and exchange details with all involved parties. If this is not possible, you should report the incident to your local police station as soon as possible and always within 24 hours.

If you do leave the scene of an accident for any reason, you should report the incident to the police as soon as possible. Although you could still be charged with leaving the scene of an accident, any penalties are likely to be reduced if you come forward voluntarily.

Hit and run is a serious offence, so it’s best to take responsibility for accidents when they happen to avoid any charges being brought. However, if you do find yourself facing a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, it’s important that you have an experienced motoring offence lawyer on your side.

At Caddick Davies, we pride ourselves on being there for our clients when they need us the most. We are highly experienced in UK road traffic law, meaning that we are perfectly placed to assist you in preparing the strongest possible defence for your case.


Contact Caddick Davies Solicitors today 

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


Related Questions

Is It Illegal To Hit And Run In The UK?

Leaving the scene of an accident, or more commonly referred to as a hit and run, is a criminal offence for which the penalties can be severe. This offence can range from a minor scrape in a car park to a collision that results in personal injury or even death. If you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident, you might be wondering about the police hit and run procedure in the UK.

Is It My Fault If I Reverse Into Someone?

If you reverse into another vehicle, you will usually be at fault, especially if the other vehicle was stationary at the time of the accident. If the other car is moving and the driver was speeding or not paying attention, fault may be shared between the two drivers. If you are involved in an accident, it’s important to stop your vehicle and exchange details with any other parties involved. This will prevent a charge being brought against you for leaving the scene of an accident.

Get Expert Legal Advice After A Hit And Run Accident

If you have been involved in a hit and run accident, you’re likely to be feeling overwhelmed and wondering what to do next. Leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offence that can have severe penalties, so it’s important to have an experienced motoring offence solicitor on your side.

At Caddick Davies, we know how worrying it can be when you’re facing a hit and run charge. We’re here to support you in achieving the best possible resolution to your charge. Whether you plan to submit a defence to the charge or admit a mistake and plead guilty, we can prepare the strongest possible defence case, helping to overturn the charge or reduce your sentence.

If you’re looking for a specialist motoring offence solicitor to support you through your hit and run charge, contact us today for a free legal consultation.

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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