Failure to stop/report an accident

The S170 Road Traffic Act 1988 states that if an accident occurs, whereby injury or damage is caused, the driver must stop at the scene and exchange details with anybody that may reasonably require them. If they do not stop, or there is nobody with whom details may be exchanged, the driver must report the accident as soon as reasonably practicable (and in any case within 24 hours) to Police.

Exchanging details includes providing the other party with your name, address and registration number. If damage is caused to property or an animal (specifically a horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog!) and there is nobody with whom you can exchange details, you should report the incident to a Police Station within 24 hours.

These road traffic offences are commonly committed in conjunction with the offence of careless driving (driving without due care and attention). A huge number of these types of incidents arise from a bump or scrape when parking, and the driver alleged to have caused the incident has driven away.


Failing to stop and failing to report an accident are each punishable by the endorsement of between 5 – 10 penalty points (or discretionary disqualification) plus a fine. In some cases a custodial sentence is ordered, although this is reserved for the more serious examples of the offence, and usually involve death or serious injury.

If you are convicted of failing to stop and failing to report an accident (they usually go hand in hand) you should only receive penalty points for one, as they occurred on the same occasion or arise from the same set of circumstances.


There are a number of defences available to these allegations. The following are defences which our motoring offence lawyers have successfully argued on a number of occasions:
➢ I was not the driver;
➢ The incident in question did not occur on a road or other public place;
➢ There was no damage or injury caused;
➢ I had no knowledge of any injury or damage being caused;
➢ I did stop and provide my details;
➢ I did report the incident as soon as practicable / within 24 hours.

It should be noted that, in order for a driver to stop and exchange details, or to report the incident as soon as reasonably practicable, they must be aware that damage or injury has occurred. If a driver is unaware that anything untoward has happened, they cannot be expected to stop and report it. This is often argued when the alleged incident has occurred in a car park. Be warned, however, that witness statements may often be provided if anybody witnessed the incident, and CCTV footage may be available. If the “bump” was significant, or if it is apparent that the driver was aware (or should realistically have been), then this defence is significantly weaker.

Our legal team are genuine experts in motoring offence law, and if you have been accused of failing to stop or report an accident we can help. Our lawyers will listen to your account, consider the evidence and give you robust, comprehensive legal advice on plea and the best way to proceed with the case.

  • We are specialist motoring defence solicitors, based in Plymouth in the South West. We provide expert legal advice and representation to clients both across Devon and Cornwall and nationally. Contact a member of our motoring legal team for an initial discussion about any road traffic matter.**