Failing to remain at the scene of an accident, or hit and run as it is more commonly known is without a doubt a daily occurrence in British Columbia. We all know that we are doing something seriously wrong when we hit a cyclist, pedestrian or other vehicle on the highway and leave the scene to escape civil and criminal liability. However, we're not quite so worried when the collision is a scrape or a dent in a parking lot or something else that we can convince ourselves is of a minor nature.
Own Up to Your Mistake
Ask anyone who has had to deal with their insurance company after they have suffered a hit and run collision and they will tell you how much it has cost them in time and money to make a claim and have their vehicle repaired. In some cases the frustration is so high that maybe it is a good thing the offending driver was never found!
The victim's lot is always easier if the offending driver remains and takes responsibility for their actions. Many victims are unaware that they must exercise due diligence to locate and identify the offending driver or vehicle or they could be denied insurance coverage.
What the Law Requires of You
Any collision that causes damage, injury or death to others resulting from the operation of your vehicle requires you to immediately return to the scene, provide all reasonable assistance and produce in writing of their identity, the identity of the owner of the offending vehicle, the license plate number and insurance particulars of that vehicle.
This a requirement, even in the face of personal risk, as the case of R v Griffith shows.
Collisions with Unattended Vehicles
In the case of a collision with an unattended vehicle, the driver must take reasonable steps to locate the owner, driver or person in charge and notify them. If that person cannot be located it is sufficient to leave this information outlined above in writing in or on the vehicle.
Collisions with Property
It is required that you take reasonable steps to locate and notify in writing either the owner or the person in charge of the property.
Notify Your Insurer
Failing to do this within 14 days of the collision may result in denial of any coverage. It may not be necessary to make a claim, but the notification will avoid problems if that changes later on.
Hit & Run Penalties
Criminal Code charges are usually used for collisions where serious harm results and convictions may include a prison term. Convictions under the Criminal Code for driving offences all result in the assessment of 10 penalty points.
The middle ground would be a mandatory appearance in provincial court for the Motor Vehicle Act offence.
A traffic ticket could be issued with a monetary penalty of $368 when the crash does not involve an unattended vehicle or property only. Otherwise the ticketed amount is $196. These offences carry 3 penalty points.
2022 Motor Vehicle Act Convictions
- Fail to Remain or Return: 470
- Unattended Vehicle: 221
- Fail to Provide Information: 195
Until they make the penalty for hit and run worse than impaired driving this will continue to happen.
The way the laws are now, if you're drinking and involved in an accident you'd be crazy to stick around. Just show up at the police station after you sober up and say whatever as an excuse, then take your punishment for hit and run.
In either case, your insurance is void and the penalty scheme is pretty much the same save for the automatic driving prohibition.
The lack of insurance coverage is what scares me. If damage or injury was significant you could literally be paying for the rest of your life.
Don't pay and your driver's licence and ability to register and license vehicles are gone too.