Elements of the Offence
Pursuant to section 252 of the Criminal Code of Canada, in order to be convicted of failing to remain at the scene of an accident the Crown Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of the following elements; (1) you were in care and control of a vehicle, (2) you were involved in an accident with another person, vehicle, vessel, aircraft or cattle, and (3) with the intent to escape civil or criminal liability, you failed to stop the vehicle, give your name and address, and where any person has been injured or appears to require assistance, you failed to offer assistance.
Where you are involved in an accident where you only struck an object such as pole, this section is not applicable.
Where a person fails to either stop, give his or her name and address, or offer assistance when required, there is a presumption that he or she did so with the intent of escaping civil or criminal liability. In these circumstances the onus shifts on to you to prove that this was not your intent to escape civil or criminal liability.
Penalty for Failing to Stop at the Scene of an Accident
The penalty for failing to stop at the scene of an accident can vary depending on the circumstance surrounding the accident. For example, where a person failed to remain at the scene of an accident while knowing that bodily harmed had been caused to any other person involved in the accident, that person is guilty of an indictable offence and subject to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years.
Where a person fails to remain at the scene of an accident and the person knows that any other person involved in the accident is dead, or where the person know bodily harm has occurred and that person is reckless as to whether death result to that person and death does in fact result, then the person is liable to a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
All other circumstances where a person has failed to remain at the scene of an accident carry with it a penalty of a fine not exceeding $5,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months on a summary conviction, or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years when the Crown proceeds by way of indictment.
Additional Penalty under the Highway Traffic Act
Pursuant to section 41(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, a conviction for failing to remain at the scene of an accident also carries a mandatory 1 year licence suspension for a first conviction, a 3 year licence suspension for a subsequent conviction within a 10 year period of the previous conviction, and upon a third conviction with 10 years of the subsequent conviction, your licence will be suspended indefinitely. If your licence is suspended indefinitely, you cannot apply to have your licence reinstated until 10 years have passed since your previous conviction, and you have not had any other driving offences in that 10 year period.
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Similar to dangerous driving, a conviction for failing to stop at the scene of an accident can have significant implications with respect to your ability to drive a motor vehicle, including the likely increased costs with respect to motor vehicle insurance.
Contact me immediately if you have been charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident. Ask about arranging a free consultation.