What are your legal responsibilities if you are involved in a collision? Do you need to stop and talk to the other driver? Can you just leave if the damage is minor? Do you have to exchange any information with the other driver? Are you obligated to call the police? If you miss doing something, will you be charged by the police? What could the police charge you with and what are the penalties that you would face?
That’s a lot of questions! They’re also important questions that can either result in or avoid serious penalties being issued by the court or Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation. You could end up with a record of conviction, a large court fine, demerit points, CVOR points, insurance problems, a suspension of driver’s licence, or even imprisonment! Let’s take a look!
There are generally two common offences that can be issued when a driver fails to meet their obligations after being involved in a collision. The first of these is Fail To Report An Accident under Highway Traffic Act (HTA) section 199(1):
Duty to Report Accident
199 (1) Every person in charge of a motor vehicle or street car who is directly or indirectly involved in an accident shall, if the accident results in personal injuries or in damage to property apparently exceeding an amount prescribed by regulation, report the accident forthwith to the nearest police officer and furnish him or her with the information concerning the accident as may be required by the officer under subsection (3). R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 199 (1); 2002, c. 17, Sched. F, Table.
The basic legal responsibility is to contact the police and report the accident. However, depending upon the nature of the collision and officer availability, you may be directed by the police to instead proceed to another location such as an accident reporting center to make your report there. This obligation is detailed in HTA s.199(1.1):
Officer may direct person to report accident at another location
(1.1) If, on reporting the accident to the nearest police officer under subsection (1), the person is directed by the officer to report the accident at a specified location, the person shall not furnish the officer described in subsection (1) with the information concerning the accident but shall forthwith attend at the specified location and report the accident there to a police officer and furnish him or her with the information concerning the accident as may be required by the officer under subsection (3). 1997, c. 12, s. 15; 2002, c. 17, Sched. F, Table.
It would likely surprise many Ontarians that there is not just a legal responsibility on the driver to report an accident. The other occupants of the vehicle also carry a legal obligation under HTA s.199(2) to report the accident if the driver is physically incapable of doing so (such as in the case of injury and hospitalization):
Where person unable to report
(2) Where the person is physically incapable of making a report and there is another occupant of the motor vehicle, the occupant shall make the report. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 199 (2).
Fail To Remain At The Scene of A Collision
HTA section 200 deals with the obligations of a driver that is “directly or indirectly involved in the accident.” There are three subsections that deal with three separate obligations:
(a) remain at or immediately return to the scene of the accident;
(b) render all possible assistance; and
(c) upon request, give in writing to anyone sustaining loss or injury or to any police officer or to any witness his or her name, address, driver’s licence number and jurisdiction of issuance, motor vehicle liability insurance policy insurer and policy number, name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle and the vehicle permit number. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 200 (1); 1997, c. 12, s. 16.
The first obligation, under HTA s.200(1)(a), requires that the driver remain at the scene of the collision, or if they have left, to immediately return. Sometimes it may be impracticable to immediately stop given road or traffic conditions. Sometimes a driver might not have immediately been aware that a collision occurred.
The second obligation, under HTA s.200(1)(b), is to render all possible assistance. Failure to do so may result in being charged by the police.
The third obligation, under HTA s.200(1)(c), is to provide the following information to police, any witness, or to anyone who has sustained injury or loss in the collision:
- Your name
- Your address
- Your driver’s licence number and jurisdiction of issuance
- The name of your insurer
- Your insurance policy number
- The name and address of the vehicle owner
- Vehicle permit number
The court penalties for a conviction under one of the offences included in HTA s.200 are very severe:
(2) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition the person’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years. 2009, c. 5, s. 54.
It is important to note that the fines described in these two sections are also subject to an additional victim fine surcharge as follows:
|Fine Range ($)||Surcharge ($)|
|Over 1000||25% of actual fine|
This could result in a maximum, total-payable fine of $2,500.00.
Fail To Report Damage To Highway Property
It is also worth noting a third offence that can be issued in the case of a collision and the duty to report. While much less common than the previous offences, it is also possible to be charged with Fail To Report Damage To Highway Property under HTA s.201:
Notification of damage to trees, fences, etc.
201 Every person who, as a result of an accident or otherwise, operates or drives a vehicle or leads, rides or drives an animal upon a highway and thereby damages any shrub, tree, pole, light, sign, sod or other property on the highway or a fence bordering the highway shall forthwith report the damage to a police officer. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 201.
Even if another person has not been involved in your accident (a single vehicle accident), you still have the duty to report the incident to the police if any of the following have been damaged:
- Any shrub or tree
- “other property” on the highway
- a fence bordering the highway
Failing to report any such damage can result in your being charged by the police.
How Many Demerit Points Would I Get For Failing To report?
The number of demerit points issued by the MTO, under Ontario Regulation 339/94, against your driver’s licence depends on which section of the HTA you have been convicted under:
- Fail To Report, HTA s.199(1) – 3 Demerit Points
- Fail To Report At A Specified Location, HTA s.199(1.1) – 3 Demerit Points
- Fail To Remain – HTA s.200(1)(a) – 7 Demerit Points
- Fail To Render Assistance – HTA s.200(1)(b) – 7 Demerit Points
- Fail To Provide Required Information – HTA s.200(1)(c) – 7 Demerit Points
What Happens If I Am A Novice Driver?
Novice drivers such as those with a G1, G2, M1, M2, M2-L or M2-M licence can be subject to escalated sanctions penalties (penalties issued on top of the other penalties that would normally be issued against a driver with a full licence) under the following conditions:
- Any combination of repeat violations of G1/G2/M1/M2 restrictions
- Convictions for individual HTA offences carrying four or more demerit points
- Court-ordered licence suspensions for HTA convictions that would have otherwise resulted in four or more demerit points.
As charges issued under HTA s.200 would result in a 7 demerit point penalty upon conviction, the following escalated sanctions penalties would also be issued:
- 30-day licence suspension for the first occurrence
- 90-day licence suspension for the second occurrence
- Licence cancellation and a requirement to re-apply for a G1/M1 after the third occurrence. Any fees paid, credit received for time spent in the program or BDE credit would be forfeited when the licence is cancelled. Please note that in the case of a hybrid driver, only the novice-class licence is cancelled on the third occasion; their full-class licence is maintained.
What Happens If I Am A Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver?
Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers, such as transport truck drivers, have to be much more careful than regular drivers. Not only do they have to protect their own driver’s licence, insurance, and court penalties, but they also have to protect their or their employer’s CVOR. CVOR points for a conviction would be as follows:
- Fail To Report, HTA s.199(1) – 3 CVOR Points
- Fail To Report At A Specified Location, HTA s.199(1.1) – 3 CVOR Points
- Fail To Remain – HTA s.200(1)(a) – 5 CVOR Points
- Fail To Render Assistance – HTA s.200(1)(b) – 3 CVOR Points
- Fail To Provide Required Information – HTA s.200(1)(c) – 3 CVOR Points
- Fail To Report Damage to Highway Property – HTA s.201 – 3 CVOR Points
How Can I Fight My Charge?
If you have been charged by the police, contact our office. It is important to seek out the information that you will need to make informed decisions as early as possible. Legal missteps or uninformed decisions at the start of your case can result in either an else wise avoidable conviction or a poorer final result at the end of your case. An experienced and licensed paralegal is your legal voice at court. They represent you at court and they know both the law and the legal process. The vast majority of these cases can be resolved without your needing to ever step foot in a courtroom or ever file a legal document. That’s the job of your legal representative.
Have You Been Charged With Failure To Remain Or Report A Car Accident In Ontario?
If you've been charged with failure to remain at a car accident or failure to report a car accident in Ontario you should contact us as soon as possible. We have skill and experience in helping drivers just like you respond to accusations of failing to report a car accident or failure to remain at the scene and provide free, confidential consultations to empower you to fight your charges. We help drivers throughout Ontario including Cambridge, Georgetown, London, Windsor and from our home office in Kitchener. Contact us online or call us directly at 1.844.647.6869 or text us a copy of your ticket to 226.240.2480.