Failing to Stop or Report an Accident FAQs

failing to stop or report an accident
Traffic and Rain by Jonathan Kos-Read

Failing to stop or report an accident

Information about failing to stop or report an accident from a specialist motoring law solicitor.

Where can I find the law?

The offences of failing to stop or report an accident are in section 170 Road Traffic Act 1988.

Your obligations

What do I have to do if I have an accident?

If you are driving a vehicle that is involved in an accident and any of these things happen:

  • Injury to anyone
  • Damage to another vehicle
  • Damage to an animal that is not in your vehicle (or trailer)
  • Damage to property

You have to stop and give these details to anyone who reasonably asks for them.

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • The name of the owner of the vehicle
  • The address of the owner of the vehicle
  • The vehicle registration

If it is not possible to stop and give your details for a good reason then you have to report the accident in person to a police station or to a police officer. You must make the report as soon as possible and within 24 hours at the most.

There is an extra requirement when there has been an injury. You must provide your insurance certificate at the scene. If you can’t then you have to report the accident to the police.

The only person injured was my passenger. Do I still have to stop and/or report?

Yes you do. The rules are exactly the same for passengers of your vehicle as they are for people in other vehicles or pedestrians. If there is no damage to any other vehicle/property and no injury to anyone else then the only person who you would have to give your details to is your passenger.

I was the only one injured. What do I have to do?

If the only thing that happened was injury to you then there is no need to stop or report. But if any to the other things (damage or injury) then you stop and report as normal.

Do I have to report every accident to the police?

No. Provided you stop and give your details to the other driver, anyone who was injured and the owner of any property/animals that were damaged there is no need to call the police at all with one exception. That exception is: if someone was injured and you do not show them your insurance certificate. In that case you must report the accident to the police and show them your insurance certificate. If the police attend you can nominate a police station and produce your insurance certificate there within 7 days.

The accident was not my fault. Do I still have to stop?

Yes. Once an accident occurs involving your vehicle you must stop. It makes no difference whose fault it was.

Damage to animals? What if I ran over a snail?

You can run over as many snails as you like. The law only applies to horses, cattle, asses, mules, sheep, pigs, goats or dogs. Bad news if you are a cat or a hamster.

Do I have to stop even if the accident is minor?

Yes. If there is any damage or injury – even the slightest you have to stop.

Do I have to stop if there was no damage or injury?

No. You do not have to stop if there has been no damage or injury. Be careful though, if you notice damage later you should report. You should also check to see if there has been damage or injury. You can’t just drive off and assume that everything is OK.

If I have an accident parking is it OK of I leave a note under the other driver’s windscreen wiper?

The law says that you must stop and give your details to anyone who reasonably asks for them. If there is nobody around, you don’t have to wait for ever. But you do have to go to the police in person and report the accident.

Leaving a note in the other car’s windscreen is not enough in the eyes of the law. You need to report. In practice, it is extremely rare for someone who leaves their details in a note to be prosecuted. But it could happen.

I didn’t realise that I had an accident at the time but now I have found some damage on my vehicle. What should I do?

You should report the accident to the police as soon as possible. You must report in person to a police station or to a police officer.

I was too frightened to stop. What should I do?

If there is a genuine threat to your safety that will be a defence to failing to stop after an accident. You should report the accident to the police straight away by going to a police station or speaking to a police officer. A phone call is not enough.

I stopped after an accident but there was nobody there to give my details to. Have I broken the law?

No you haven’t. If there was some damage but there wasn’t anyone to give details to then you can leave. You are not obliged to search for the a person to give details to. You can leave but you must report the accident at a police station in person or to a police officer in person.

How do I report the accident. Is it OK to report it to the police by telephone?

No. The law says that you must report in person to a police station or to a police officer.

I called the police and they told me that I didn’t need to report the accident. Is that OK?

This is a strange one. The law says that you must report in person – not on the telephone. If the police have told you that you do not need to go to a police station then it is very unlikely that you will be prosecuted for failing to report. You could probably rely on what the police told you as a defence – keep a record of the time of the call and who you spoke to. If you are in doubt, go to a police station as well.

How long do I have to stop for? What if nobody comes?

The requirement is to stop and give details to anyone who reasonably requires them. You just need to stay for long enough for that to happen. There is no set amount of time. If the case went to court they would ask whether the amount of time that you waited was sufficient to allow someone to obtain details.

Do I have to search for the owner of the other car or the owner of property that was damaged?

No there is no obligation for you to search. If nobody is around then you need to report the accident to the police.

Police investigation

The police want to interview me. What should I do?

Ask a solicitor. You are entitled to free and independent legal advice for a police interview. A solicitor with a contract with the Ministry of Justice can deal with the case under the legal aid scheme.

The police might want you to attend for an interview as a volunteer. That means that you do not have to go. Be careful though. You can be arrested for failing to stop or report an accident. If you do not co-operate with a voluntary interview there is a risk that you might be arrested to be interviewed.

I have received a letter from the police asking me to identify the driver for failing to stop and failing to report an accident. What should I do?

This sounds like a notice served under section 172 Road Traffic Act 1988. You are obliged to reply to the notice and give the name of the driver. Failing to give details can mean 6 penalty points and a fine. See this post for more details.

The police didn’t send me a notice of intended prosecution for failing to stop or failing to report. Can I still be prosecuted?

Yes they can. If there has been an accident then the police do not have to send you a notice of intended prosecution.

The police sent me a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) more than 14 days after the accident. Can I still be prosecuted?

Yes they can. Normally the police had to send a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) to the registered keeper within 14 days of the incident. But when there has been an accident there is no need for them to send an NIP at all so you can’t complain if it is late.

Decision to prosecute and alternatives

Can I go on a driver improvement course instead of going to court?

No. The police do not offer a course as an alternative to a Magistrates’ Court prosecution.

Can the police give me a fixed penalty instead of going to court?

No. You cannot be given a fixed penalty for failing to stop or report an accident.

Will the police definitely send my case to court?

The police usually ask 2 questions before someone is prosecuted:

  1. Is there sufficient evidence to prosecute
  2. Is it in the public interest to prosecute

Provided that there is strong enough evidence to support a case they will normally find that it is in the public interest to prosecute.

Court cases

I have received a postal requisition. Do I have to go to court?

It depends. A court can deal with a case of failing to stop or report in your absence. You can write in with a guilty plea and they might sentence you without you being there. In practice most courts will adjourn the case and order you to attend. Then they will issue a warrant for your arrest if you don’t go to the adjourned hearing.

What is the worst that can happen at court?

The maximum sentence for failing to stop or report an accident is 6 months in prison. They will also impose 5-10 penalty points and can disqualify you from driving. Magistrates have guidelines that they follow and in practice it is rare for a prison sentence to be imposed. (See the next question)

What sentence will I get for failing to stop or failing to report an accident?

It depends on the facts of the case. Magistrates have sentencing guidelines for failing to stop or report an accident. The guideline for failing to stop or report an accident is on page 127. The scenarios in the guidelines do not cover every case but they will give you an idea of the kind of thing that a court will be looking at.

  • Lower culpability and lesser harm: Band B fine AND 5-6 penalty points
  • Higher culpability and lesser harm or lower culpability and greater harm: Band C fine AND 7 – 8 points or consider disqualification
  • Higher culpability and greater harm: Starting point of a high level community order with a range of a Band C fine to 26 weeks custody AND disqualify 6 – 12 months or 9 – 10 points

Factors indicating higher culpability

  • Offence committed in circumstances where a request for a sample of breath, blood or urine would have been made had the offender stopped
  • Offence committed by offender seeking to avoid arrest for another offence
  • Offender knew or suspected that personal injury caused and/or left injured party at scene
  • Giving false details

Factors indicating lower culpability

  • All other cases

Factors indicating greater harm

  • Injury caused
  • Significant damage

Factors indicating lesser harm

  • All other cases

A Band B fine is usually 100% of weekly take home pay. A Band C fine is usually 150% of weekly take home pay.

Will I get penalty points for failing to stop or failing to report an accident?

Yes you will get 5-10 penalty points depending on the seriousness of the case. In the most serious cases you will be disqualified from driving.

I have been charged with failing to stop, failing to report and careless driving. Will I get points for all three?

No. The court will decide which of the charges is the most serious and give you points for that one.

Will I go to prison for failing to stop or failing to report an accident?

You could go to prison for up to 6 months for failing to stop or report an accident. A prison sentence is reserved for the most serious cases usually involving causing a serious injury or damage.

I have been charged with failing to stop after an accident. I had an accident but I didn’t realise. Can I be found guilty?

If you genuinely did not know that you had an accident then you are not guilty of failing stop and you should be found not guilty.

Be careful though you might still required to report the accident if you find some damage on your vehicle later.

Which court will deal with my case?

All cases of failing to stop or report an accident are dealt with in the magistrates’ courts. Appeals are in the Crown Court (and sometimes in the High Court).

Will my case be decided by a judge?

It could be. Most cases in a magistrates’ court are heard by 2 or 3 magistrates. Sometimes cases are dealt with by a District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) who has the same powers as magistrates.

Can I have a jury trial?

No. Jury trials for failing to stop or report an accident are only held in the Crown Court. Trials for failing to stop or report have to be in the magistrates’ court where there is no jury.

Do I need a lawyer at court?

It’s up to you. Remember that the potential sentence for failing to stop or report an accident is serious and you will get a criminal conviction if you are found guilty. You can represent yourself. If you want to find a lawyer read this post about finding a solicitor for a drink driving case, the principles are the same.


I was convicted at court for failing to stop or failing to report an accident. Can I appeal?

Yes you can appeal to the Crown Court. You have 21 days from the date of sentence to appeal. Judges will only allow an appeal after 21 days if you have a very good reason.

My sentence for failing to stop or failing to report an accident was too high. Can I appeal?

Yes you can appeal to the Crown Court. You have 21 days from the date of sentence to appeal. Judges will only allow an appeal after 21 days if you have a very good reason.

50 Replies to “Failing to Stop or Report an Accident FAQs”

    1. Interesting reading ,I had an incident in a pudlic cer park where I reversed into a parked car to let a person out hitting the rear corner of his bumper,we let the lady out but another took our space ,we left the car park then returned to check the other vehicle for any damage ,their was no damage to his or mine ,we took a photo of his bumper ,as no damage was Visable we dident leav a note or report it,the lady leaving the car park reported us to the police but did not see us return as she had driven off and look at the car and take the photo,I am now being done for careless driving and failing to stop after an accident. And the other person is saying he had damage to his bumper & light which no where near to where we hit him,no damage done why would I need to report it ?

  1. What is the law when for instance it is unsafe to stop? Ie you cannot stop immediately due to being in live traffic and no hard shoulder?

    1. Hi Darren. Nobody would expect that you should stop in a position that would place you or anyone else in danger. The law just says that you have to stop. In cases where there is a good reason not to stop then the driver must report the accident in person at a police station or to a police constable. This must be done as soon as reasonably practicable which in most cases is straight away.
      Hope this helps.

  2. Hey i have received a nip which they have sent me 1 month after the incident and it was just a minnor incident no one was heart or no serious damaged just a little scratch on the side or both car i did stop and exchange my detail with the driver . What should i do as it have cross the 14 day period

  3. Hi Stephen,
    on the 1rst of September, I got an insurance claim on my car about an accident that I believe I was not involved. I mean, I was there at the time of the claim, it is 100m from my house in a co-op parking. I do recall a car parked very close to mine, but I maneuvered carefully and am sure I did not hit it. I keep playing in my head but I am absolute certain i did not hear or felt anything. 3 days later the insurance claim. And now I got a letter from the police saying they intend to institute proceedings against the following offenses:
    1. fail to stop after road accident
    2. fail to stop – give name and address of self and owner/vehicle details
    3. Driver of a vehicle involved in a road accident failed to report that accident.
    This alleged incident occurred on the 30th of August. I have replied to the police notice for the current driver details, and I have stated everything I remember in the explanations. This in just on the road I live, in from of the place where i cut my hair, buy stuff from charity and my groceries from co-op. Most traders there know me and my car, and it makes zero sense for me to run from there.

  4. Hi I wonder if u can help a lorry has driven into my house and drive away some water board employees saw this no one has reported this are the water board employees perverting the course of justice I don’t know wot to do

    1. Good morning Keith. Sorr to hear about the lorry driving into your house. You should report the matter to the police and to your house insurers and let them deal with it.
      Best of luck Stephen

  5. Hi Stephen, thanks for providing really helpful advice on these pages.

    A general legal opinion on the following scenario would be hepful:

    A car came off the road and damaged a residential hedge in a relatively rural location at 3am. The driver of the car then stopped and waited a reasonable amount of time to see if there was anyone to exchange details with. There was nobody at the scene to exchange details with. The driver then reported the incident to the police and insurance company later that day.

    Having received a failure to stop at the scene of an accident + a dangerous driving Notice Of Intended Prosecution, would the driver have a defence if summoned to court?

    1. Hi Careful Driver. From what you say there might be a defence to failing to stop at the scene of an accident. Failing to report depends on whether the report to the police was made as soon as reasonable practicable. Also the report must be in person to a police officer or at a police station.
      Need more details to be sure.

  6. I was issued with nip on 4th of January . Incident took a place 19th of November. My car was parked and a bus hit my door. Now after 46 days they asking me to identify driver . What should I do.

  7. Hi wonder if you can advise? Received a letter today from police asking for driver details re car accident back in Feb stating failure to stop, failure to report a collision and driving without due care and attention. I was the driver and the irony is the road was blocked by a badly parked police van. I reversed and I thought I had stalled my car but got out to check I hadn’t bumped the car behind me. It was dark but had a look then returned to my car to get my phone so I could have a better look. I was absolutely convinced there was no damage. I completed the reverse and carried on down the road even flagging another car down to tell them the road was blocked, so hardly the actions of someone fleeing an accident. Next morning I drove down the road again pausing near the car to confirm there was no damage and there was not. Satisfied there was no damage I went on my way. I was absolutely knocked for six today by this letter and as usual the traffic unit is not open today so I am left dangling, deeply upset and worried. Will I have to go to court? I haven’t heard anything from their insurance which seems to support again my position that there was no damage.

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Anita. Sorry to hear about all this, it must be very worrying. I can’t advise you on this page (it isn’t confidential). Please give me a call on 0330 111 6074 or send me an email. I am available on Sundays. Stephen

  8. Hi A lady hit onto my back passenger door and the seat airbag came out and seriously demaged my door, wing and tyre. I was unable to see anything and for a minute I was unable to move as I was very scared sitting inside the car. When I came out I fell down and that lady run away and was unable to stop, didnt gave me her details or anything. I was unable to copy the reg because I was not feeling well on that time but with the help of cctv I found the reg of her car now. What should I do now? Please advise me thanks

      1. What about my insurance? Is it gonna go higher If I make a claim with the other lady’s insurance company after reporting the matter to the police as I now knows the reg of that lady?


  9. What about my insurance? Is it gonna go higher If I make a claim with the other lady’s insurance company after reporting the matter to the police as I now knows the reg of that lady?


  10. I’ve recently got a letter from the police saying I was involved in an accident and didn’t stop which was from 2 weeks ago. Shall I inform my insurance company myself or wait

  11. Hi,

    I reversed into a car at slow speed while getting out of a parking spot. I got out to check and did not see any damage on either of our cars. The car owner did not turn up and I went to a police station in person and described the incident. The officer on duty told me to not worry and didn’t take anything in writing.

    I find this quite strange and I’m worried that if the other cars owner reports me then there will be no evidence of me having ever gone to the police to report this myself. All I can think of is my phones location history and the cctv footage showing me walking into the police station (although this gets wiped over every 28 days). Should I be worried at all?

  12. Hello Stephen
    I hAve recieved a nip with the nip header crossed put. 5 weeks after alleged offence. Asking to name the driver. Failing to stop. Failing to report and careless driving. But the time and date are incorrect as I have vehicle tracking proof of the vehicle being parked up 10 miles away. Leaving one hour before and one hour after. Can I request the claimant details. Car colour and damage. Do I need to name the driver when it was in fact stationary in deference the location ? How should I deal either the his nonsense ? Thanks

  13. I was assaulted by a driver physically the driver got out of his car and hit me three times overall. The driver then got into his car and drove his car head on into me knocking me down to the floor on the ground. I managed to get up the driver drove off photos stop and the police are now investigating. I presume this is a very serious offence especially as the driver intentionally knocked me down causing several injuries.

    Good information above I presume the police should prosecute and I assume the driver will received maximum points a ban and either a suspended sentence or imprisonment.

  14. Great post
    My partner had a accident on m1by himself no one was injured only our car was damaged and the hard shoulder Boulder he was concussed in the accident and wander off worried car would set on fire front end damage very badly when he got home finally leaving car on the m1 I called police to ask about my car and report accident no luck on phone ended up on a chat with them and called insurance to report it but now he received failing to stop after an accident does this even apply when he has no one around at 4.20 in the morning and also concussed
    Seems abit unfair can they prosecute?

  15. Hi Stephen I’ve got a letter from the police saying I had an accident and failed to stop last week. I was coming out of a junction where I only can turn left the guy gave me way as he slowed right down I’ve come out of the junction but not going anywhere I was standstill as there’s a car in front of me he then speeds up and hits my car it was on a busy junction so I’ve drove ahead and stopped on the next side road there was no damage to my car hence why i didn’t report accident to my insurance but he eventually admitted he was in the wrong and would fix his own damage then his reported me to the police for not stopping?

  16. Hi Stephen

    Last night a car cut across me on a roundabout, crashed into my front drivers side wing. He then proceeded to drive off so I caught up with him, he’s then stopped and we both got out. He stunk of cannabis so I said I was phoning the police, I phoned the police and as I was talking to them he got back into his car and drove off. Luckily I took a picture of his number plate, he then phoned the police to say I was intimidating which is a lie, it’s because he stunk of cannabis and the police were on the way that he drove off. Where do I stand with this?

  17. Hi Stephen,

    Informative article.

    Out of curiosity; what are the responsibilities of a passenger? Is a passenger obliged to stay at the location of the accident?


  18. How long does it normally take for the case to go to court someone I know had an accident back in August but no court date has been received as yet

  19. Hi i was in situation where i have tried to leave a junction on a roundebout and when i looked to my right i had a boxed van taking the junction before mine… i have started to make my manuvre (having a clear shot) when this black car came out of nowhere (must have been hidden behind the van and it was pitch dark outside).. i have stopped but he had scratched my car while trying to avoid the hit… i did not realise this at first and i was hoping he would.stop to check but he kept on driving… i have followed him for nearly a mile and in the end we have split up and went our ways… when i came back home i have realised that i have a scratch which i can live with as it’s hardly noticeable but i am assuming he will see a light scratch on his car when he gets back home too… what should i do in this instance?

  20. Hi, I have just received a NIP from my company car lease company for “failing to stop following an accident”. News to me!! Turns out my wife “nudged” a car in a car park towards end of Jan whilst trying to park in a space in Milton Keynes Car Park. No damage visible to my car but obviously there must be minor damage to 3rd party car! Clearly she did not report otherwise woukdn’t be getting a NIP. Would appreciate your advice.

  21. Hi, I’ve had a citation in the list and the charges are – Failure to stop and Failure to give details.. I genuinely did not know about the incident and I’ve responded in writing with a not guilty plea.. the witness described a man and I’m a woman so how can they do that??

    What happens now?

      1. Hi We had a taxi hit us from the rear on Monday tea time, no one was injured and our car was not damaged but our towbar went through the taxi bumper and number plate, he said not to worry he will get it fixed, we have no contact details for them but have a slightly blurred cctv footage, should I go to the police

  22. I reversed down a road and a small car that was parked was not in my view and I hit it.
    As I’ve never done anything like this before I was in blind panic. I got out of my car checked both cars, no damage. I wrote down my details and left them under the wiper. I was shaken up and anxious to receive calls over the next few days. There was also 2 witnesses who was shaking heir head and I could see them taking down my reg. I never hear anything back his was 5 months ago.
    Today I received a letter for dangerous driving and failure to stop and report the accident. From the police! I tried to call gem over & over. No answer. I’ve been beyond stressed and I’m tears all day. Please help me I’m guessing they are not in the office until Monday and I can not wait until then to speak to the officer.
    I was also not aware you had to report a accident like that to the police. I thought I did the right thing! Please help!

  23. Last Friday on the way to work another car hit me, stopped for a second looked at me and the proceeded on his journey without stopping, this immediately rang alarm bells of ‘is he insured’ I then followed the driver and got his registration, make & model, and proceeded to get to work where I then reported it to the police, they have subsequently confirmed they will peruse via their collision team as a non stop accident.
    We also reported it to our insurance company, and they confirmed he is insured. Yesterday his insurance company informed us that is has denied the accident ever happened, so options are to a) either have insurance fix the damage and then for them to make a claim against them but as he denies it they may not get all if any of the money back – the excess is also payable, and inevitably this will load the policy at next years renewal ; b) repair the car at our own cost and not involve our insurance.
    We have contacted the local council about CCTV but they confirmed no CCTV is in place at the junction in question and the police do not have any cameras in that area, so we have no ‘proof’ other than the apparent damage to our vehicle.
    I hold no hope that the police will persuade him to admit liability, but do hope he doesn’t do this to someone else.

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