Legal i

Was it my fault?

Q I’m a fairly new driver ñ I passed my test a year ago ñ and was recently involved in an incident which Iíd like advice on. A few weeks ago, I was driving through a built-up area of Stockport, along a four-lane road with a 30mph speed limit, in the right-hand lane. Thereís no central reservation and when I saw the destination I was looking for on my right, I put my right-hand indicator on and stopped to wait for oncoming traffic to clear. It was raining and the car behind me stopped, but was then rear-ended by the car following. The driver who stopped behind me was shouting and saying it was my fault, but as there was no contact with my car, I got back in my car and drove away. Iíve not heard anything since and I want to know if I could be prosecuted for causing an accident.


A It is possible that you could be prosecuted either for driving without due care and attention, or for failure to stop and give your name and address to anyone reasonably requiring it, or to report the accident to the police as soon as possible.


Although you did not collide with anyone, it is arguable that stopping your car in busy traffic could amount to driving without due care and attention. I doubt that the police would charge you with this in the circumstances, and if they did, you would have a reasonable chance of acquittal, particularly as the speed limit on the road was 30mph and it appears from what you say that traffic was heavy and perhaps moving slowly. Much will depend on facts that we donít yet fully know.


Of more concern is your failure to stop and give other drivers an opportunity to ask for your name and address and take your registration details, to enable them to make a claim. As you did not do so, you would also be vulnerable to a charge of failing to report this to the police as soon as possible after the event.


Even though you did not collide with another vehicle, where there is an accident owing to the presence of your car on the road, whereby another person is injured or another vehicle damaged, the duties to provide particulars and/or report to the police arise. If convicted of either of these offences, you could be disqualified from driving for a period to be determined by the court, or your licence could be endorsed with between five and ten penalty points.


There is a two-year probationary period for newly qualified drivers. If a driver accumulates six or more penalty points within two years of first passing a driving test, then his licence will be revoked. This is harsher than a disqualification for a set period, because revocation requires that the driver passes a new driving test before having his licence restored. You do not say whether you already have any points on your licence. If you do already have points, then a conviction for either of these offences would mean that your licence would be revoked, but if not, then only an endorsement of six or more penalty points would result in this.


Careless driving carries three to nine penalty points, so there is a little more room for manoeuvre in terms of the points accumulation, unless you already have points on your licence. If you were disqualified for any of these offences, the court could not also endorse points, so you would not face revocation under the New Drivers legislation.


It is too late to report the accident to the police now, as you would not have done so as soon as possible, so this would just be inviting trouble. The police have six months from the date of the offence in which to issue magistratesí court proceedings against you, so if that period, plus a couple of weeks for serving the papers on you, elapses without you hearing anything, then you will probably be in the clear.


Designed by solicitors, tested by barristers and available around the clock, Road Traffic Representation is an online legal system that allows people accused of a motoring offence to get free advice on how the law will be applied in their case, and referral to a telephone helpline and representation by a barrister in court if required. Practising solicitor Martin Langan spent two years designing the system and creating the data repository which allows the software to analyse road traffic offences with the same authority as a solicitor.

Twitter: martinlangan

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