Section 252 of the Criminal Code of Canada covers the Fail to Stop at the Scene of an Accident charge.

Importance of the Right to Remain Silent with a Fail to Stop Charge

Every person has the right to remain silent. This right should be exercised in almost every case involving this charge. Without an admission to the Police of being the driver of the vehicle at the time of the accident, the Crown may not be able to prove you were in fact the person who left the scene. Do not give a statement to the police without legal advice first.

At Daley, Byers we have represented a number of clients who have avoided charges by following our advice. In some instances we have attended at the police station with clients for the purpose of retrieving vehicles or in response to the Police request for a statement. Our statement to the police is simple.

  • We are here to pick up our vehicle.
  • We are not reporting the vehicle stolen.
  • We have nothing else to say.

Note: it is a criminal offence to lie to a police officer in the course of an investigation. It is not a criminal offence to say nothing – that is your right!

Essential elements that the Crown must prove beyond reasonable doubt:

  • The existence of an accident;
  • Contemporaneous knowledge of the accident by the accused (i.e. It is not sufficient to prove that the accused “should have known”);
  • (1)Accused failed to stop the vehicle, or (2) give his or her name and address, or (3) where any person has been injured or appears to require assistance, offer assistance.
  • The accident must involve another person, vehicle, vessel or aircraft (i.e. an accident involving the accused’s vehicle and a pole is not covered by this section; i.e. another person can include a passenger in the car.)
  • The accused was the driver or had care or control of the vehicle at the time of the accident.
  • If the accused fails to perform any of the three (3) duties imposed on him as set out above, he is presumed to have intended to escape civil or criminal responsibility and must present “evidence to the contrary” to rebut that presumption. S. 252(2)

In these cases, the police investigation often takes place long after the accident.

Fail to Stop at the Scene of an Accident cause bodily harm s. 252 (1.2)

Where an accused is convicted of Failing to Stop at the Scene of an Accident knowing that bodily harm has been caused to another person, the penalty will be significantly greater than a simple Fail to Stop at the Scene of an Accident charge on its own. Jail is the norm (although not mandatory) in a case involving bodily harm; the more serious the injury, the greater the penalty.

Fail to Stop at the Scene of an Accident cause death s. 252 (1.3)

In a case involving a death to another person where the accused knows of the death, or where the accused knows that bodily harm has been caused and is reckless as to whether the death of the other person results from that bodily harm and the death of that person so results, the penalty increases substantially. There are no cases in Canada where jail has not been imposed after a conviction for this charge.

Penalties for Fail to Stop at the Scene of an Accident

  • Criminal record
  • Possible jail (up to 5 years where there is no injury or death) and a maximum of 10 years where there is injury or death)
  • Fine
  • Automatic 1 year licence suspension pursuant to provisions of the Highway Traffic Act
  • Possible criminal court ordered driving prohibition
  • Substantial insurance rate increase
  • No insurance coverage for damage to your vehicle incurred in the accident

Reduction to Highway Traffic Act Offence

Fail to Stop at the Scene of an Accident is a criminal offence. In Ontario, the Highway Traffic Act has a similar offence of Failing to Remain at the Scene of an Accident. In some instances it is possible to negotiate with the Crown a reduction from the Criminal Code offence to the Highway Traffic Act offence.


Frequently asked question about Failing to Stop at the Scene of an Accident s. 252 Criminal Code of Canada

Does there have to be damage or injury to constitute an “accident”?

There does not have to damage or injury. The crucial component of the charge is the intent to avoid civil or criminal responsibility. For example if a person’s vehicle just tapped the bumper of the car ahead and that individual failed to stop because he had consumed alcohol, then he would have left the scene to avoid criminal responsibility.

Is it a criminal offence to Fail to Stop at the Scene of an accident involving a single motor vehicle?

There is no requirement to remain at the scene of a single motor vehicle accident unless there are injuries to a passenger in the motor vehicle, or to another person, caused by the accident.

What is my responsibility if I have an accident with an unoccupied vehicle?

The obligation is to stop and attempt to locate the owner and provide personal information. Failure to do so may result in a conviction.

. What if I leave the scene briefly and then return?

It will depend why you left the scene. Many of our clients have faced this dilemma having left the scene to seek assistance and returned a short time later. This conduct is acceptable. If however, you have failed to stop at the scene of the accident to avoid civil or criminal responsibility then you will face a possible conviction even though you returned to the scene a short while later.

What if I did not know I was in an accident?

It is an absolute requirement for a conviction that you must have known there was an accident. In fact, it is not sufficient for the Crown to state that in the circumstances you should have known that there was an accident. Actual knowledge is required.

What can happen to me if I am convicted?

This question was partially answered above under Penalties for Fail to Stop at the Scene of an Accident. However, each case will depend on the facts supporting the charge and the history of the individual facing the charge. For example a good driving record would be considered as a positive factor on sentencing.

How much is my defence going to cost?

This depends upon a number of factors including:

  1. The complexity of the matter
  2. Will the case go to trial?
  3. Can a plea to a reduced charge be negotiated thus reducing the time that is spent on your case?
  4. Are expert witnesses involved and/or required?
  5. The number of witnesses

After our initial free consultation we will provide you with a range of legal fees based on the different possible process that your case may follow. We do require a partial retainer which is held in trust and applied to your total legal fee. We also accept payment plans. We understand that nobody budgets for unexpected legal costs and we try to accommodate as best we can. What we do promise our clients is value; an excellent legal defence and open channels of communication with their lawyer. It is our job to get you the best result possible. It is our job to win.

If you have any other questions or wish a free consultation call or email Daley, Byers now.

Fail to Remain – Highway Traffic Act s. 200

Drivers who are involved in a motor vehicle accident in Ontario are required by the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario to do four things:

  • Remain at the scene or immediately return to the scene.
  • Render all possible assistance
  • Upon request, give in writing to anyone sustaining loss or injury or to any police office name, address, driver’s licence number and jurisdiction of issuance, insurance details, name and address of registered owner.
  • If more than $1000.00 dollars damage or personal injury or damage to the highway, the accident must be reported to the police forthwith.

The Penalty for Fail to Remain s. 200 Highway Traffic Act

  • A fine of not less than $400.00 dollars and not more than $2000.00 dollars;
  • Imprisonment for a term of not more than 6 months or both.
  • 7 demerit points
  • Possible licence suspension for up to 2 years;
  • Substantial insurance rate increase

Note: There is no requirement that the accused failed to remain at the scene to avoid civil or criminal responsibility to make out this charge as there is in s. 252 of the Criminal Code charge.