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When is it OK to leave the scene of an accident? And what happens if I do?

By Elsie - 12 March 2009 42

I was recently involved in a minor accident (less than $100 damage) but when I gestured for the other driver to pull off the road he jumped out of his car, moved towards me and became aggressive. 

I have been a victim of crime and felt threatened so I drove off but reported the incident to the local police who felt I had behaved correctly. 

The other driver reported a different version of events at a different police station and that officer has now charged me to appear in court. 

I have a perfect driving record without as much as a parking fine.  I have been involved in 2 other accidents, one in which I was at fault and on both occasions I stopped and exchanged details. 

What can I expect and what is the worst that can happen?

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42 Responses to
When is it OK to leave the scene of an accident? And what happens if I do?
boomacat 7:08 pm 12 Mar 09

PS Disclaimer I used to work for the guy a while back when I was a student.

boomacat 7:07 pm 12 Mar 09

In my humble lay person’s opinion I would consider seeing a solicitor – if you approach the DPP directly and say the wrong thing this could be used against you later on. Instead, you could consider exercising your right to silence at this stage.

I’d suggest Herring and Associates of Queanbeyan/Canberra, not sure if they do things as relatively minor as this but the Principal of the firm is an excellent criminal lawyer and very client focussed.

vg 6:26 pm 12 Mar 09

3 sides to every story. Yours, mine and the truth

See a solicitor

Spideydog 6:01 pm 12 Mar 09

I think there is a little more to this story ?? Something is not adding up ??

Spideydog 5:58 pm 12 Mar 09

Elsie said :

I have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

Is the charge for failing to exchange details or for failing to render assistance to an injured party ?

TAD 5:58 pm 12 Mar 09

Righto, looking at the legislation

Australian Road Rules

287 Duties of a driver involved in a crash
(2) The driver must stop at the scene of the crash and give the driver’s required particulars, within the required time and, if practicable, at the scene of the crash, to:
(a) any other driver (or that driver’s representative) involved in the crash; and
(b) any other person involved in the crash who is injured, or the person’s representative; and

(3) The driver must also give the driver’s required particulars, within the required time, to a police officer if:
(a) anyone is killed or injured in the crash; or
(b) the driver does not, for any reason, give the driver’s required particulars to each person mentioned in subrule (2);

You can argue to the DPP that the other driver’s demeanour made it not practicable and that you satisfied 3(b) by informing the police instead.

Give it a crack, there are bigger fish to fry out there for the DPP and let us know how you go. You can always chuck in a request to the information access team for your original accident report (with the coppers names) if you didn’t get it at the time. http://www.afp.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/9720/FOI_Request_Info.pdf

Elsie 5:47 pm 12 Mar 09

I have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

TAD 5:40 pm 12 Mar 09

No, the DPP is in charge at that point and can withdraw it if they desire. The horse has bolted for the copper regardless of what he becomes aware of.

On the first court date, you will have the “statement of facts” which you will need to disagree with the charge.

By the way Elsie, what charge were you charged with? You may be right purely by informing the police immediately after the accident.

sepi 5:33 pm 12 Mar 09

TAD couldn’t these letters be written to the other police offecer now?
Or is it better to actually wait for a court date?

TAD 5:29 pm 12 Mar 09

Traffic infringments are not admissable in ACT Courts so if you didn’t go to court before, you are a cleanskin.

ebony57 5:24 pm 12 Mar 09

Too many unknowns here, but in general, all accidents should be reported in person to the Police within 24 hours of the accident. When you make your report, you may ask for a reference for the report, and make note of where/when/to whom you made the report.

If as you say you have made a report, then there will be a record of this – this may be of use to you and your legal representative. Not too sure that you can quote yourself as having a perfect driving record, given that you have admitted to having been at fault in a prior accident. It would perhaps be more accurate to say that you are infringement free.

Also visit http://www.tams.act.gov.au/move/driver_licence

TAD 5:18 pm 12 Mar 09

At your first appearance ask the Magistrate for the standard 3 week adjournment “to seek legal advice”.

In that period write a letter “A representation” to the DPP requesting that the charge be withdrawn. Advise of your version of events pointing out that you attempted to provide your details to the other driver but felt threatened and so left the scene at that time purely to avoid a physical confontation. Point out that this is supported by your attendance at the police station where you provided your version of events and details. Request that if the charge is not withdrawn, that the police you spoke with provide statements to support your defence. If you have a passenger or other witness to the incident to support you, chuck in a stat dec from them as well.

From there the DPP will weigh up the evidence, public interest and the informant’s opinion (the copper who charged you)and will decide if they can be bothered or not.

Don’t waste your money on a solicitor at this stage. You are worth more money to them if it goes all the way.

Good luck and trust a complete stranger on this one.

Spam Box 5:13 pm 12 Mar 09

Get a Lawyer, can’t stress that enough.

johnboy 5:09 pm 12 Mar 09

Agreed on seeing a lawyer, but having some background ideas can’t hurt either.

I’d be surprised with our judiciary if they were not merciful on hearing your story, but obviously the other side of the story has something going for it too.

caf 5:05 pm 12 Mar 09

You need to speak to a lawyer. You could get advice here, but how would you know if it was right or not?

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