Duties after a Motor Vehicle Collision (13:IV)
A. Remain at Scene
1. Motor Vehicle Act Provisions
Pursuant to Motor Vehicle Act s 68(1), the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident must:
a) Remain at the scene or return immediately
b) Render all reasonable assistance, and
c) Produce, in writing, her or his name and address, the registered owner’s name and address, the vehicle license number, and particulars of insurance.
It is an offence to omit to do the duties specified in Motor Vehicle Act s 68(1). The reason or motive for leaving the scene is irrelevant. Since this is a strict liability offence, the defence of due diligence may be available to an accused.
2. Criminal Code Provisions
Under Criminal Code s 252(1), it is an offence for a driver involved in an accident with (a) a person, (b) a vehicle, vessel or aircraft, or (c) cattle in the charge of another person to fail to remain at the scene of an accident with the requisite intent of escaping civil or criminal liability. From s 252(2), “in the absence of any evidence to the contrary,” the failure to stop raises a presumption of intent to escape civil or criminal liability. However, if a person charged with a criminal offence can show that he or she left the scene without an intent to escape criminal or civil liability, that person is entitled to an acquittal: R. v. Chase, 2005 CarswellBC 1793, 2005 BCSC 1080. A person who is convicted for failing to remain at the scene of an accident is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction (s 252(1.1)).
B. Provide information
1. Duty to Provide Information Under the Motor Vehicle Act
If asked, the owner or a person in a motor vehicle that a peace officer believes has been involved in an accident or a violation of the Motor Vehicle Act, must provide any information respecting the identity of the driver at the time of the accident (Motor Vehicle Act s 84). The person has the right to remain silent until he or she speaks to a lawyer, which is advisable in most circumstances.
2. Police Accident Reports
Although accident reports are not open to public inspection, parties to the accident may obtain license numbers from the reports as well as names of drivers, registered owners, and witnesses (Motor Vehicle Act s 249(2)).
C. Duties where damage to unattended vehicles or property
1. Damage to Unattended Vehicles
Under the Motor Vehicle Act s 68(2), the driver, operator, or any other person in charge of a motor vehicle that collides with an unattended vehicle must stop, locate, and notify, in writing, the owner of the unattended vehicle of the name and address of the driver, the operator, or any other person in charge of the motor vehicle as well as the registered owner’s name and address and the vehicle license number. The information must be left in a conspicuous place on the damaged vehicle.
2. Damage to Other Forms of Property
In the event of damage to property other than another vehicle, the driver, operator, or any other person in charge of the motor vehicle must take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner of the property, in writing (Motor Vehicle Act s 68(3)). The driver must take reasonable steps to provide the following particulars to the owner of the property: the name and address of the driver, operator, or other person in charge of the vehicle as well as the license number of the vehicle and the name and address of the vehicle’s registered owner.
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