Stein Monast informs you...

Laws and rules

Imagine one of your drivers driving a bus filled with passengers. As he gets out of a parking lot to begin his journey, he suddenly hangs up a parked and unoccupied vehicle. Since the owner of the vehicle was not on the scene at the time of the accident, your driver, willing to do so, leaves him a note in his windshield with your name and telephone number so that we can reach you. Effect and takes the time to notify you directly of the event. Not wishing to lose more time to his passengers, he then resumes the road. Surprise! A police officer later intercepts your driver and gives him a statement of offence for the hit-and-run in connection with the collision. Were the legal obligations fulfilled or the alleged offence actually committed?

Generally speaking, a hit-and-run offence means the failure of a driver of a vehicle to stop and identify himself when he is involved in an accident. When a driver is charged, the prosecutor can proceed in two ways; by criminal charges or by criminal charges. The choice of prosecution in this regard will depend on the circumstances of the events.

In Quebec, the prosecution is generally under the criminal aspect of the issuance of statements of offence under the Highway Safety Code (CSR). Contrary to the criminal charges, the prosecution will not have to prove the intention of the driver to flee the scene or escape his responsibility to be found guilty.

The CSR includes four articles about the hit-and-run that detail the obligations of the driver in such circumstances. Article 168 CSR first provides for the obligation to "remain on the premises or return immediately after the accident and provide the necessary assistance to any person who has suffered damage". Article 169 CSR stipulates the obligation to call in a peace officer in the event that a person involved in the accident has been injured.

It should be noted that it is not enough for the driver involved in an accident to simply leave his name and telephone number to fulfill his obligations. The CSR, in its article 170, actually provides that the peace officer or the victim must be given all the following information: his name, his address, the number of his licence, the name and address of the owner registered in the registration certificate, the insurance or solvency certificate and the number plate of the vehicle.

Finally, Article 171 CSR provides that in the event of an accident involving an animal weighing more than 25 kg, an unoccupied vehicle or an inanimate object, it is necessary to contact the owner of the damaged property or the nearest police station so that to report the event and provide all the information provided for in Article 170 CSR. It should be mentioned that this report must be done without delay, which according to the case law means "at the earliest possible opportunity". Thus, without a phone in his possession at the scene of the accident, the driver should contact the police station as soon as there is access, or go directly. Finally, it is not enough to simply communicate with your employer, since the obligation rests with the driver.

This being so, it is frequent that the guilty driver is not identified since he left the place without fulfilling his obligations. In this case, article 592 CSR makes it possible to issue a statement under articles 169 and 170 CSR in the name of the owner of the vehicle when he was not present at the time of the facts. He could thus be found guilty, unless he proves that his vehicle was in the possession of a third party without his consent during the events.

The issuance of a general offence report or report for hit-and-run offences under the CSR will result in the addition of 3 points to the operator's ELV file and to the driver's professional file. When the charge is laid under the Criminal Code, the weighting is then 5 points, for both the operator and the driver. Note that in addition to the professional points, the driver will see his driving record impacted by 9 demerit points at the time of the conviction.

Finally, in addition to the weighting related to the offence itself, it is important to note that an accident report may also be completed by the peace officer. In this case, additional points could be added to the continuous assessment records due to involvement in an accident.

It must be remembered that, while limiting inconvenience to your passengers is an important consideration in your business, failure to comply with your legal obligations following a collision could.