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Offences and Duties after Accidents

Failure to comply with duties after an accident

The driver of every vehicle involved in an accident must [Australian Road Rules reg 287(2)]:

  • Stop at the scene of the accident
  • Give their details including their name and address, the name and address of the vehicle’s owner, and the vehicle's registration number (or any other information necessary to identify the vehicle) to any other driver involved, any person injured (or their representative) or the owner of any property that has been damaged.

If any of the following circumstances apply, the driver must also report these details to police as soon as possible within 24 hours [reg 287(3)]:

  • If anyone is injured or killed in the accident
  • If you have not given your details to each person as above
  • If you have not been given the details of the other driver
  • If a vehicle is towed or carried away by another vehicle
  • If a fair estimate of the cost of repairing damage to property (other than to your own vehicle or property) is $3000 or more [see Road Traffic (Road Rules - Ancillary and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2014 (SA) reg 39]

A driver must also remove any debris from the road or take action to have them removed as soon as can be done safely after an accident [see Australian Road Rules reg 293].

Elements of the offence and penalty

Failure to comply with these duties is an offence and in relation to accidents where no-one is injured or killed the penalty is a fine of up to $2 500 [see Road Traffic (Road Rules – Ancillary and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2014 (SA) reg 67].

Police can require the drivers to give details of the day, time and place of the crash, details of the vehicle/s involved, details of other drivers, passengers, pedestrians involved, witnesses, and details of any injuries and damage resulting from the crash. Police can ask about vehicle speeds and positions before and at the time of impact, but if you think this information may incriminate you, you do not have to answer. See CRIMINAL AND TRAFFIC OFFENCES, Driving Offences, Answering police questions about what questions you must answer and ARREST, YOUR RIGHTS AND BAIL, Arrest and Questioning for further information.

If someone is injured or killed then the driver of every vehicle involved in an accident must [Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 43(1)]:

  • stop immediately at the scene of the accident
  • immediately give all possible assistance
  • within 90 minutes of the accident, present themselves to a police officer to give particulars of the accident and submit to any test for alcohol or drugs

Elements of the offence and penalty

Failure to comply with these duties is an offence and the penalty is imprisonment of up to five years and license disqualification for at least one year [see Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 43(1)]

Defences

It is a defence to this charge if the driver was reasonably unaware that the accident had occurred [see s 43(3)(a)]. It is also a defence if the driver genuinely and reasonably believed that to comply would endanger them physically and they notified the police, ambulance or another authority at the earliest opportunity [see s 43(3)(b)].

In relation to failure to comply with the duty to present to a police officer, it is a defence if the driver has a reasonable excuse for failing to comply and they still presented themselves as soon as possible after the accident [ see s 43(3)(c)].

Failure to comply with duties where the accident involved injury or death

Elements of the offence

It is an offence to fail to comply with your duties as a driver involved in an accident [under the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 43 (see above)] where another person has been injured or killed as a result of driving without due care or attention [see Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) s 19AB]

Penalty - fatal accidents

Where the accident has resulted in death, the penalty for the first offence is imprisonment of up to 15 years and licence disqualification for at least 10 years. Subsequent offences carry a penalty of up to life imprisonment and licence disqualification of at least 10 years.

Penalty - non-fatal accidents

Where the accident has resulted in serious harm, the penalty for a first offence is imprisonment of up to 15 years and a licence disqualification of at least 10 years. For subsequent offences the penalty is imprisonment up to life and licence disqualification for at least 10 years.

Where the accident has resulted in physical harm but not serious harm, the penalty for a first offence is a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years and licence disqualification for at least one year. For subsequent offences the penalty is imprisonment up to seven years and licence disqualification for at least three years.

For a definition of "serious harm" see s 21 and for "subsequent offence" see s 19AB(4).

Offences and Duties after Accidents  :  Last Revised: Thu Oct 30th 2014
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.