Partner and Head of Wills & Estate Planning at Andrew & Co Solicitors Helen Newson writes...
Stop in the Name of the Law!
- AuthorMichael Pace
Just lately I have represented a number of people who, having been involved in an accident, have failed to comply with the law and have found themselves prosecuted for failing to stop after an accident, failing to report an accident and careless driving.
The law is quite harsh for people who commit the first two offences. The penalty points start at five points for each offence and, subject to the circumstances, can be as high as 10 points!
If you are charged with driving without due care and attention you could receive anything between three and nine penalty points, depending on the seriousness of the offence.
It is worth remembering that if you get 12 or more endorsements on your licence within three years, you will be disqualified from driving for six months which could have a devastating impact on your career and home life.
So, what should you do if you have an accident? Firstly, you must stop as soon as possible. If you cannot stop for safety reasons, you must find a place to turn around and then go back to the scene of the accident.
Having stopped you are expected to consider the situation. If you have hit an unaccompanied parked car, you should knock on a few doors of nearby houses to try to find out who the owner is. If that’s not possible, leave a note on the windscreen saying who you are and how you can be contacted.
If you have caused damage to a sign or other street furniture such as a barrier, you must also stop and then decide what to do next.
If you have hit or been hit by another car, then having stopped you must give your name and address to the other driver and expect them to do the same.
If for some reason you cannot give your details to anyone because they are not there you must then call the police and report the accident as soon as is practicable. Usually you can do this on your mobile phone while still at the scene. Failing everything else, perhaps because you are injured, you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours at the most.
If you have managed to exchange your particulars with the other person, there is no need to report the incident to the police.
The message is, if you have been in an accident and are unsure what to do, report it to the police and always get the name of the person you spoke to.