Failing to Stop / Failing to Report An Accident

Find out what you need to know to keep you on the right side of the law. Are the Police looking to interview you in connection with an incident that has not been reported? Get the best legal advice to protect your position in respect of any future proceedings.

The road traffic legislation in Scotland imposes certain duties on the driver of a motor vehicle when an accident occurs. The basic duties are contained within Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and are as follows:

(a) The driver must stop and, if required to do so by any person having reasonable grounds for so requiring, give his name and address and also the name and address of the owner of the vehicle and its registration mark;

(b) If for any reason the driver of the vehicle does not give his name and address, he must report the accident;

(c) To comply with the duty to report an accident under this section, the driver must do so at a police station or to a constable and must do so as soon as is reasonably practicable and, in any case, within twenty-four hours of the occurrence of the accident.

The Courts have always taken a dim view of offences committed under this section of the Road Traffic Act, presumably on the basis that there can be an inference that a driver is trying to get away with something or has something to hide.

Typically, when assessing the seriousness of the offence, Courts will take into consideration whether there was any evidence of drinking, the seriousness of the accident, etc. Corollary to this, the Court should also be advised of any mitigating factors. For example, it is common for a driver to leave the scene of an accident due to fear of retaliation or simply because the accident was so minor that it would be deemed to be a waste of police time to report the matter.

Failure to Identify Driver

If you have been charged with an offence of failing to furnish information or are under pressure from the Safety Camera Partnership and don’t know what to do, we are in a position to help. There are numerous websites out there offering armchair legal advice regarding how to wrangle out of a notice of intended prosecution and we cannot emphasise enough the need for informed legal guidance on this topic.

We exclusively defend motoring prosecutions in Scotland and have built up a considerable reputation and wealth of experience that you can use to your advantage.

Your Obligations Concerning Identifying the Driver

The offence of failing to identify the driver of a vehicle is contained within Section 172(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. These provisions state that the person keeping the vehicle shall give such information as to the identity of the driver as he may be required to give by or on behalf of a chief officer of police. The law similarly applies to any other person if required to give information which it is in his power to give and may lead to the identification of the driver.

  • You may receive correspondence demanding information
  • Information requested within a strict time frame
  • You could receive a visit at work or to your home

These are complex legal provisions and the waters can sometimes be further muddied by the conduct of the Safety Camera Partnership and their colleagues in the Police Force. You may receive correspondence demanding information, within a strict time frame, stating that a Police report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal for consideration of proceedings under Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

You may receive a late night visit from the Police whilst at your home address or indeed the knock may come whilst you are in your place of work. This can be an unpleasant and intimidating experience. Our specialist legal advice will ensure you are properly advised of your legal rights and fully understand what is required of you in the eyes of the law.

A matter that is very rarely raised by the Safety Camera Partnership is the statutory defence contained within the law that states:

a person shall not be deemed to be guilty of an offence under this section if he shows that he did not know and could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained who was the driver of the vehicle.

The correspondence trail will be lodged by the Crown and therefore it is imperative that your reasonable diligence defence is not compromised in any way. We can assist with representations at any stage of the case.

Whether you have just been issued with a  Notice of Intended Prosecution or have received your Court citation, you should take specialist advice from a recognised expert in road traffic law.

Our Track Record

Click on the button below to see examples of how we have successfully defended this offence over the last decade

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If an incident was so minor that you didn't notice contact then you should not face criminal charges because of it. We have successfully defended a number of cases on this basis.
This is a common misconception, 24 hours is simply the maximum time-frame. Your obligation is report the incident as soon as possible. There is no requirement to report the matter to the police if you have exchanged details at the scene with the other party or their representative.
Each offence carries an endorsement of 5-10 penalty points and the Court may also exercise its power of discretionary disqualification. The Court should not add up the penalty points for each offence as they arise out of the same incident. It is perfectly competent however for the Court to impose 10 penalty points in respect of one charge and disqualify on the other charge. It is always advisable to seek expert legal advice when facing these charges as they are serious and perfectly capable of being robustly defended.
You are only required to provide your name, address and registration number. If you do not own the vehicle you must give the name of the owner and his/her address. There is no legal requirement to provide your telephone number, email address or the name of your insurer if you do not feel comfortable doing so.
Yes, you have a legal duty to give information which is within your power to give. If you know who was driving then you must answer. If for example you are the only person insured to drive your vehicle then there will be a real suspicion that you are simply trying to avoid detection if you do not answer.
If you simply do not know or cannot remember and cannot through reasonable diligence ascertain who was driving then you ought to say that you do not know.
Failure to disclose the identity of the driver may constitute an offence under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 which is punishable by the imposition of 6 penalty points or a discretionary disqualification. Discretionary disqualification is frequently exercised by the Court where the substantive matter would have involved mandatory disqualification (e.g. drink-driving or dangerous driving).