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FAILING TO REMAIN AT AN ACCIDENT

Under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA), failing to remain at the scene of an accident is one of the most serious offences that police can issue. These charges can be issued under a wide range of circumstances. The most obvious scenario would be a driver who is involved with a collision and flees the scene out of fear of the consequences (perhaps due to alcohol impairment or an already bad driving record). However, this offence can also be issued in much more benign scenarios such as a driver who goes off the road in a rural area in the middle of the night, finds their way home, and then contacts the police the next day.

Being charged with Failing to Remain is very serious. A conviction can incur large court penalties, have a severe impact to your driver’s licence, create a record of conviction, and drastically impact your insurance costs.

If you have been charged, contact our staff as soon as possible to discuss your situation.

WHAT IS FAIL TO REMAIN?

Failing to remain at the scene of a collision falls under section 200 of Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act:

“Duty of person in charge of vehicle in case of accident

200 (1) Where an accident occurs on a highway, every person in charge of a vehicle or street car that is directly or indirectly involved in the accident shall,

  1. remain at or immediately return to the scene of the accident;
  2. render all possible assistance; and
  3. 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.”

HTA section 200(1)(a) is the section that police will generally charge a driver under for failing to remain at the scene of a collision. Alternately, the police may sometimes charge under HTA s.199(1) for Fail To Report Accident. The three subsections here are generally worded as follows:

  • 200(1)(a) – Fail to Remain
  • 200(1)(b) – Fail to Render Assistance
  • 200(1)(c) – Fail to Give Required Information
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR FAIL TO REMAIN?

Generally, there are 3 areas of penalty if a defendant is convicted of a Highway Traffic Act offence:

  • Court Penalties
  • Licencing Penalties
  • Insurance Cost Increase

HTA section 200(2) defines the range of penalties that can be assigned by the court if you are convicted:

“(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 range of court fine described is also subject to the victim fine surcharge. The total-payable fine in this case would range between $490 and $2,500. Generally, imprisonment or court-ordered licence suspensions are reserved either for defendants with a very poor driving history or for cases involving aggravating factors such as alcohol, serious injury, or fatality.

If convicted at court, that record of conviction will be sent to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). The MTO will then register a record of conviction against your driving history along with the appropriate number of demerit points (penalties range between 0 and 7 demerit points depending upon which HTA section you have been convicted under). All subsections under HTA section 200 are the maximum 7 demerit point penalty.

Insurance cost increases for many HTA offences can readily surpass the fines issued by the court. Generally, your insurer will look at multiple factors in considering your risk assessment and the cost to provide you insurance. A conviction for Fail to Remain may result in you being removed from standard insurance and placed onto ‘high risk’ insurance.

Total Fine Demerits Imprisonment Suspension* Insurance
$490 – $2,500 7 Up to 6 months Up to 2 years Likely high risk

*Court ordered suspension. A conviction may result in other suspension of your licence by the MTO.

CVOR POINTS AND FAIL TO REMAIN

Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers such as transport truck drivers are in additional jeopardy if charged by the police. CMV drivers face the regular court, licencing, and insurance consequences of a conviction; however, they also face CVOR points and an impact to their current and future employment. A conviction will result in an additional record of conviction and CVOR points for the driver’s employer (or the driver if they are under their own CVOR). The CVOR points for the various sections of HTA s.200 are as follows:

Offence CVOR Points
200(1)(a) – Fail to Remain 5
200(1)(b) – Fail to Render Assistance 3
200(1)(c) – Fail to Give Required Information 3

A conviction for a 5 CVOR point offence may result in termination of employment and difficulty obtaining new employment.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I’M A NOVICE DRIVER?

Novice drivers (i.e. G1, G2, M1, M2 licences) are especially vulnerable to licence suspensions and increases to insurance. Compared to a full driver’s licence, novice drivers are subject to many limitations and restrictions. One such limitation is the triggering of escalated sanctions penalties for a conviction of any single offence that carries 4 or more demerit points. The severity of the penalty applied by the MTO depends on whether this is a first, second, or third occurrence:

  • 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 SHOULD I DO IF CHARGED WITH FAIL TO REMAIN?

Failing to remain at the scene of a collision is a very serious offence. If you are charged by the police, It is important to immediately seek out the information that you will need to make informed decisions and avoid legal missteps. A legal misstep can result in your conviction and consequences that will impact your life for years into the future. Many of these cases can be resolved without requiring you to be present at court. Put an experienced and knowledgeable team in front of you to protect your interests.

OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services is here to help you. Our friendly staff offer a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation and can assist you in as little as 10 to 15 minutes for most matters. We can be reached via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, email at info@otdlegal.ca, or via text at 226-240-2480. You can also submit an online request for a consultation at any time of day or night, and one of our staff will contact you during regular business hours to discuss your case with you.