Leaving the scene of an accident: why contact a lawyer?

Do you drive on-road vehicles or RVs? Do you drive regularly or only occasionally? Did you only recently get your driver’s license or do you have years of driving experience? Regardless of your situation, it’s very important to stay informed of current road safety laws and abide by them.

If you fail to follow the rules, you’re committing a violation, some of which are established in the Highway Safety Code and others of which are part of the Criminal Code. For example, hit-and-run would be considered a criminal offense.

What does leaving the scene of an accident or a hit-and-run entail?

You’ve surely heard these expressions before, but do you know exactly what they mean?
These violations are envisaged in Articles 168 through 171 of the Highway Safety Code and Articles 320.16 and 320.17 of the Criminal Code.

Under the Highway Safety Code, for example, you should know that, in all likelihood, you will be accused of a violation of Article 168 or 171 (leaving the scene of an accident) if, while driving an automobile or other vehicle (ATV, snowmobile, boat, etc.), you’re involved in a collision or fender-bender with another vehicle, a person, an object or an animal weighing more than 25 kg and you do one of the following:

  • Leave the site of the incident without giving your contact information to the other people involved
  • Fail to return to the site of the collision
  • Fail to contact the police if someone is injured or if the owner of the damaged property isn’t present and can’t be reached (as might be the case if you hit an unoccupied vehicle or an object in a parking lot, for example)
  • Fail to provide assistance to an injured person or one who appears to need help

In all of the cases described above, you must provide the police, the owner of the damaged property or the person who has suffered a loss or injury with all of the required information, including the following:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your driver’s license number
  • Your vehicle license plate number
  • The name and address appearing on the registration of the vehicle you’re driving (if it isn’t yours)
  • Proof of insurance

Under Article 168 of the Highway Safety Code, if the other person involved in the incident has suffered a loss or injury, it’s imperative that you remain on the scene or return immediately after the accident in order to provide the necessary assistance.

The penalties range from a fine of $200 to $300 in the case of a minor accident to anywhere from $600 to $2,000 in the case of a more serious accident, depending on whether the incident involved another person, an animal or property. Furthermore, 9 demerit points will automatically appear on your driving record.

In more serious cases, if you fail to pull your vehicle over as soon as possible or if you deliberately flee when you’re being pursued by a police officer, you’ll be accused of a hit-and-run under Article 320.17 of the Criminal Code. This criminal offense can result in having your driver’s license revoked, in addition to imprisonment of up to 10 years and a criminal record.

Why contact a lawyer?

Have you been accused of a hit-and-run or leaving the scene of an accident? As soon as possible, you should contact an attorney specializing in criminal law. Only a professional can explain the penalties incurred and assist you in the various judicial proceedings. A lawyer is also in the best position to defend you. His or her professionalism will make all the difference in the world throughout the legal process.

Regardless of whether you’ve been accused of leaving the scene of an accident under the Highway Safety Code or of a hit-and-run under the Criminal Code, for you to be found guilty, the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you’ve committed the offense. A criminal lawyer knows all of the necessary procedures to ensure that the proof is complete, determine if there are any procedural flaws, negotiate with the prosecution, build your case, represent you during the proceedings, etc.

It would be in your best interests to hire Martine Thibodeau, a lawyer specializing in criminal and penal law in Valleyfield and Vaudreuil-Dorion.

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