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The Number Of Hit-And-Run Accidents Soar
The number of hit-and-run cases in Britain has recently gone up. The Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB), which compensates victims of uninsured and untraced accidents, say the number of claims where drivers did not stop has increased according to new figures. London appears to be one of the worst areas. Recent figures from the Mayor’s Office showed a surprising 16% rise in hit-and-run collisions involving pedestrians and a 13% rise for those involving cyclists.
Sky News reported that “Many hit-and-run accidents involve drivers who were under the influence of drink or drugs”. It is believed that many drivers involved in hit-and-run accidents flee the scene of the accident in order to sober up, in the hope that they will receive a lesser punishment if caught. However, the penalty for failing to stop at the scene of an accident can, in extreme cases, result in a prison sentence.
If you are in a road traffic accident, and damage or injury is caused, then you are required to remain at the scene of the accident and to provide your details, if reasonably requested to do so. Not to do so would mean that you are guilty of the offence of failing to stop. There are, however, a number of defences that may be available if you face such an allegation. One of the most common defences would be if you connected with another vehicle but did not realise that you had done so. Even if it was your fault that an accident took place and there was damage or injury caused, if the court is persuaded that you didn’t know that there had been an accident then you will be found not guilty of failing to stop. An example of this would be where you are reversing out of a parking space in a car park and you lightly connect with a parked car, and are unaware of this, and drive off. Even if you are aware that there has been an accident, if no damage or injury was caused, then you do not have to remain at the scene. However, you need to be very sure of this before leaving, as even the smallest scratch may make you guilty of this offence.
People tend to know the law in relation to failing to stop. It’s the offence of failing to report that people are generally more ignorant about. If you don’t manage to stop at the scene and exchange details when there has been an accident, for example you hit a fence at the roadside and there is no one to exchange details with, then you must report the matter to the police. The law states that you must report the matter as soon as possible, and at the very latest within 24 hours. Also, it is no good just phoning the police. You must actually go to a police station or report the matter in person to a police constable.
The sentences for failing to stop and failing to report after an accident are the same. You will normally receive between 5 and 10 penalty points on your driving licence. If this brings your total to 12 or more penalty points then you will be disqualified for at least 6 months unless exceptional hardship is successfully argued. Our leading motoring solicitor, Philip Hatvany, has an enviable success rate of over 95% for saving people’s driving licences who find themselves in this position. However, if the court decides not to impose penalty points then they must disqualify the driver for as long as they see fit.
If you face such an allegation of failing to stop or failing to report, or indeed any other motoring offence, then contact our specialist motoring law solicitor, Philip Hatvany, for a FREE consultation on FREEPHONE 0800 9098110.