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Failing to remain at the scene of an accident

Accident scene after a car hit a tree.
Photo: iStock

You know that feeling of panic when you have hit another car? You can’t breathe for a minute and you pray the damage isn’t too bad. Maybe in a moment of panic you are thinking about just leaving?

Stop right there! Leaving the scene of an accident that you have been involved in is a crime in Canada, both under federal and provincial statutes.

You can be charged under either the Criminal Code of Canada or under your provincial/territorial highway traffic act legislation.

If you are charged under the Criminal Code of Canada

Under s. 252 of the Criminal Code:

(1) Every person commits an offence who has the care, charge or control of a vehicle, vessel or aircraft that is involved in an accident with

  • (a) another person,
  • (b) a vehicle, vessel or aircraft, or
  • (c) in the case of a vehicle, cattle in the charge of another person,

and with intent to escape civil or criminal liability fails to stop the vehicle, vessel or, if possible, the aircraft, give his or her name and address and, where any person has been injured or appears to require assistance, offer assistance.

If you have left the scene of the accident in a panic, you can still return, but you have to do it immediately to avoid being charged with this offence.

Also know that if you are charged under the Criminal Code provision and found guilty, then you will have a criminal record.

If you are charged with a provincial offence

Every province has their own statutes and regulations when it comes to failures to remain at the scene of an accident.

Those regulations are usually under provincial or territorial highway traffic act legislation.

Provincial punishments for this offence often include fines, demerit points, jail and/or suspension of your driver’s license.

Punishment for the Criminal Code offense

The punishment for failure to remain at the scene of an accident can vary depending on the amount of damage that has been caused.

If it’s just failing to remain at the scene and there were no injuries and/or death involved, then the punishment is punishable by either summary or indictable conviction. Typically, in the least serious scenario, it’s a hybrid offence and will most likely be punished by summary offence which means the punishment may be a fine of up to $5000 or a maximum six months in jail or both.

If you have prior convictions, then your case will likely be dealt with by indictable offence, which is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison.

If the scene of the accident you fled involved bodily harm or or even death then the possibly punishment you are looking at will be more serious. For failing to remain at the scene of an accident causing bodily harm alone, you may be charged with an indictable offence for which the maximum punishment is ten years in prison.

Read More:

Criminal Code of Canada - Failing to Remain at the Scene of the Accident

Failing to Remain at the Scene of an Accident