Traffic laws in Alberta state that if you are operating a motor vehicle that is involved in an accident on any highway, you have certain obligations and must take certain actions depending on what occurred.

Failure to follow these laws can result in serious consequences, including hit and run charges, a lifelong criminal record, fines, license suspension, and even a jail term.

People make mistakes and a moment of panic on the roads should not have lifelong consequences.

calgary hit and run lawyers

What is hit and run?

There is no charge of “hit and run” as such in Canada.

Instead, if you leave the scene of an accident – whether it resulted in bodily harm or not – it is an offense that is usually prosecuted under the Traffic Safety Act of Alberta.

You may be charged with the criminal offence of failing to stop after an accident under the Criminal Code of Canada if there is evidence that you left an accident where someone was injured or with intent to avoid civil or criminal liability.

“Everyone commits an offence who operates a conveyance and who at the time of operating the conveyance knows that, or is reckless as to whether, the conveyance has been involved in an accident with a person or another conveyance and who fails, without reasonable excuse, to stop the conveyance, give their name and address and, if any person has been injured or appears to require assistance, offer assistance.”

Penalties for leaving the scene of an accident

While leaving the scene of an accident is never advisable, the consequences are worse if there was significant damage or an injury to another person.

The penalties you face will reflect this.

If you fled the scene of the accident without providing your contact and insurance information, and the accident resulted in only a little property damage, your license may be revoked or suspended for a period.

You could receive either seven demerit points – or three demerit points if you fail to notify the owner of an unattended vehicle that their property was damaged in an accident.

If bodily harm or bodily injury was sustained by any other person, you will likely face a hefty fine of up to $2,000, the loss of your driver’s license for up to three months, and a possible prison sentence of up to six months.

If the accident resulted in the death of another person, you may face an extended prison term, as well as fines and the revocation of your driver’s licence.

The longer-term consequences of a conviction include an impact on your employment prospects and freedom of travel, as well as an increase in insurance premiums.

What are your legal obligations after an accident?

Every driver in Alberta is bound by a series of obligations when involved in an accident. These apply regardless of who was at fault for the accident and whether any property damage or injury resulted.

Under Section 69(1) of the Traffic Safety Act, you must:

  • Exchange licence plate, contact and insurance information with the other driver(s)
  • Render all assistance necessary
  • Wait and speak to the police (if applicable)
  • Immediately return to the scene of the accident unless directed by a police officer
  • Leave your insurance and contact information if the struck vehicle was unattended

Even if you think you have adhered to these obligations but somebody else files a complaint, you may want to speak to an experienced traffic offence lawyer like Cory Wison to help you manage the situation.

Defences for leaving the scene of an accident

To secure a conviction for failing to remain at the scene of an accident, the prosecution must prove that the driver fled the scene or failed to immediately return to the scene unless directed by a peace officer.

Sometimes, the identity and/or whereabouts of the driver are unknown. In such cases, the owner of the vehicle may be charged providing the prosecution can prove that the vehicle was involved in the accident.

Typical defences employed by Cory Wilson and his team for charges of failing to remain at the scene of an accident include the following:

  • Violation of Constitutional Rights: If the police did not follow the correct procedures according to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms during and after your arrest, this will aid your defence.
  • Your vehicle was not involved: If you can show that your vehicle was wrongly identified as being involved in the accident, it is a particularly strong defence.
  • Necessity: with this defence, you need to prove that leaving the scene of an accident was necessary and could not have been avoided by exercising reasonable care or precaution.
  • Technical errors on your ticket: Serious technical errors (like no date on the ticket) may result in the case against you being dismissed.
  • No consent: in cases where you were not the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident, you may be able to say that the driver of your vehicle acted without your consent.

If you are prosecuted under the Traffic Safety Act, the prosecution does not have to prove that you intended to leave the scene of an accident but it must establish that you were aware that a collision had occurred.

Call Us To Arrange A Confidential Consultation

To speak with Cory Wilson or arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with Wilson Criminal Defence, call 403-978-6052 or email us here.

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