You have to report a road traffic accident to the police within 24 hours if you did not exchange details at the scene, someone was injured, or you suspect that the other person has committed a driving offence.

Failing to report a road traffic accident can result in five to 10 penalty point, a fine and up to six months’ imprisonment. The main defence is that you were not aware of the accident, which explains why you did not report it.

Motoring defence solicitors

If you have received correspondence from the police accusing you of failing to report an accident, contact us for legal advice. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Is it a legal requirement to report a road traffic accident?

You have to report a road traffic accident to the police if any of the following apply:

  • You did not exchange details with the other driver at the time of the accident
  • Someone is injured
  • You suspect that the other person has committed a driving offence

You do not have to report a road traffic accident to the police if all of the following apply:

  • You exchanged details with the other parties involved; and
  • Nobody was injured; and
  • There are no allegations of driving offences

How long do I have to report a road traffic accident?

You should report a road traffic accident to the police as soon as possible, and certainly within 24 hours of the incident. Not all accidents have to be reported, as outlined above. However, you must report an accident if you did not exchange details, someone was injured, or you suspect the other driver committed a driving offence.

What happens if you don’t report an accident within 24 hours UK?

Failing to report an accident is a criminal offence. If you do not report an accident to the police within 24 hours – but the accident should have been reported – then you could be prosecuted.

How do I report a car accident to the police?

In serious cases, you should report an accident to the police straightaway by calling 999. This includes if:

  • Someone is in danger
  • Someone has been seriously injured
  • You believe a serious offence has been committed
  • The collision has caused a blockage or dangerous obstruction of the road

In the accident is minor, you can continue with your journey and report the accident later on – although this must be done within 24 hours. You can call the police on 101, which is the non-emergency number. Or you can attend a police station in person. Some police forces in the UK also allow you to report a road traffic accident online.

Do I have to report a minor car accident?

You still have to report a minor car accident if details were not exchanged at the scene. If in doubt, it is always worth reporting a car accident to the police, regardless of whether the collision was your fault.

Is it a crime to drive away from an accident?

Failing to stop at an accident is an offence in its own right which carries between five and 10 penalty points. It is not the same offence as failing to report an accident, although the two often go hand-in-hand.

If you are involved in a road traffic accident, you should always stop at the scene, even if you do not think any damage has been caused. It might not be safe to come to a halt immediately, but you should stop as soon as it is safe to do so.

If any damage has been caused, you must exchange details with the other parties involved. This includes damage to another person, an animal*, a vehicle or other property.

*In this situation, an animal is classed as a horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog. It also covers animals that are being carried in the vehicle. You do not have to report accidents involving deer or cats that are hit on the road.

What to do if details were not exchanged after a collision?

If the other driver does not stop at the scene, meaning you cannot exchange details, then you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours. This applies, even if you do not think that the accident was your fault.

If you do not stop at the scene of the accident – perhaps because you panicked – then you should report the accident to the police within 24 hours. You may be charged with failing to stop, but you will at least avoid a prosecution for failing to report. Also, if the damage is minor, the police may defer the matter to your insurers.

What if there was no one to exchange details with?

If you stop but there is no one around to exchange details with – perhaps because you hit a parked car or a property – then you should leave a note with your name, contact details and vehicle registration number. You should also report the accident to the police within 24 hours.

What happens if you do not stop or report an accident?

If you do not stop at the scene of an accident and you do not report it, then the police may pursue a prosecution against you. Typically, drivers in this situation face three charges: driving without due care and attention, failure to stop and failure to report an accident.

You may have a defence to one, two or all three of these charges. Our motoring defence solicitors can discuss this with you in more detail.

You might wonder how the police know about the accident, seeing as you did not report it. However, it could be that the incident was caught on CCTV, or that the other driver/witness reported you. The police tend to investigate reports when details have not been exchanged.

What is the penalty for failure to report?

The offence of failing to report a road traffic accident carries five to 10 penalty points and a fine. In the most serious cases, it can result in up to six months in prison.

Is there a defence for failing to report?

The main defence is that you did not know about the accident. If you can convince the court that you were genuinely unaware that any damage had been done, then you may avoid a penalty. This is something we can help you with.

We have also dealt with cases in which a driver has been accused of failing to report the accident to the police within 24 hours, but the police took action before the 24 hours had actually lapsed. Again, this is something we can help you with.

As mentioned above, the charge of failing to report is often accompanied by the charges of failing to stop and driving without due care and attention. If this applies to your case, then we can explore additional lines of defence. If you did not know that the accident occurred, then this also acts as a defence for failing to stop. You may dispute the fact that your driving fell below an acceptable standard. You might even consider the other driver to be at fault. These are all things that we can help you to establish.

What to do if you’re accused of failing to report

If you are accused of failing to report an accident, you will likely get a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) through the post. This will ask you to identify who was driving a vehicle when the incident took place. You must respond to this NIP truthfully. Failing to name a driver, or lying about who was driving, are both separate offences.

Once you have responded to the NIP, contact our motoring offence solicitors for expert legal advice. Often, we can actually persuade the police/CPS to drop the charges against you. If your case does go to court, we will represent you at the Magistrates’ Court, working hard to tip the odds in your favour.

We understand that you will be worried if you have received an NIP through the post. Contact us now for legal advice about what to do next. Our motoring offence solicitors deal with cases like this on a regular basis and know how to get the best possible outcome.

Confidential legal advice

If you have been accused of failing to stop/report an accident, call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also email us on enquiries@ashmanssolicitors.com or complete our Online Enquiry Form and we will contact you.