If I am involved in an accident, either directly or indirectly, what, if any responsibility, do I have under the Highway Traffic Act ( the H.T.A )?
Under the H.T.A, Part XIV RECORDS AND REPORTING OF ACCIDENTS AND CONVICTIONS:
Section 199 (1) - Duty to report accident
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 station and furnish him or her with the information concerning the accident as may be required by the officer under subsection (3).
Under the H.T.A, under the heading “Duty of person in charge of vehicle in case of accident”
Section 200 (1) reads:
Where an accident occurs on a highway, every person in charge of a vehicle or street car that is directly or indirectly involved in that accident shall,
- remain at or immediately return to the scene of the accident;
- render all possible assistance
- 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.
Section 200 (2) – Penalty
Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six (6) 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.
Section 201 – Notification of damage to trees, fences, etc.
Every person who, as a result of an accident or otherwise, operates or drives a vehicle or leads, rides or drives an animal upon the 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.
If you leave the scene of an accident, this is commonly referred to as a “Hit and Run” and given society’s intolerance for this type of unacceptable behaviour, the consequences can be severe (Incarceration for six (6) months, loss of driving licence for 2 years and a fine, ranging from $200.00 to $1000.00). Additional consequences could include your insurance company immediately cancelling your auto insurance policy (your a high risk now) or ensuring you’ll pay your normal premiums and then have Facility Association apply a 250% surcharge on top of the premiums you were use to paying up to that point and the possible loss of employment (due to your inability to operate a motor vehicle).
The Criminal Code also addresses this situation. Section 252 (1) states: “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 ….. and with the intent to escape civil or criminal liability fails to stop the vehicle, vessel or, if possible, the aricraft, give his/her name and address and where any person has been injured or appears to require assistance, offer assistance”.
Section 252 of the Criminal Code therefore sets out the essential elements, that is, leaving the scene without rendering assistance or providing a name and address. If such is the case, subsection 2 (which I have not included) raises a presumption that the person in control of the vehicle to avoid civil or criminal liability unless there is evidence to the contrary.
Many motorists don’t realize that if they are convicted in the Courts for “Failing to remain at the scene of a collision” that they will accumulate seven (7) demerit points on their driving record with the Ministry of Transportation for a period of two (2) years and for a period of three (3) years with their insurance company. In other Provinces, for instance, Manitoba, you’ll receive 15 demerit points, in Prince Edward Island, you’ll receive 12 points, in Newfoundland & Labrador you’ll receive 12 demerit points. Don’t forget, the Canadian Driver Licence Compact (the CDLC)- Article 4.1.2 Traffic Offences – “Failure to remain at the scene of an accident and failing to report the “accident” to a police officer or peace officer”. Not only is this information shared with the other Provinces and Territories who have signed on to the CDLC, but will remain with you if you try to move there. The States of New York and Michigan are also privy to it, given the Reciprocal Agreement between Ontario and those States.
If that same motorist who failed to remain at the scene of a collision, then further compounds their situation by “Failing to report a collision to a police officer” they will accumulate an additional three (3) demerit points on their driving record with the Ministry of Transportation (M.O.T) for a period of two (2) years and for a period of three (3) years with their insurance company (they have now accumulated ten (10) demerit points and their insurance rates will now go through the roof, anywhere from three (3) to six (6) years). One more additional charge may be the difference of not being able to drive (not being able to afford the skyrocketing insurance premiums) and not being allowed, under the law to drive (due to loss of driving priviledges). Remember, under the Highway Traffic Act Part IV LICENCES – Section 31- Driving is a Privilege.
It must be remembered, that a fully licensed driver receives a warning letter from the M.O.T when he/she accumulates six (6) points, and at nine (9) points the M.O.T may summon you to an interview where the onus rests on this motorist to discuss his driving record and provide a rationale as to why his/her licence should not be suspended. Once this motorist has accumulated fifteen (15) demerit points, his/her licence will be suspended for thirty (30) days, from the date that the licence is surrendered.