Q I have been visited by the Police as they say that I hit a car while reversing off of my driveway, drove off and failed to stop. The owner says that she witnessed me do it, but I don’t actually believe that I went out on that day, although I cannot be sure. More than a week has passed since the incident, and so my recollection is hazy. There is no CCTV or ANPR evidence to confirm that I was driving the car on the day in question. The owner and I don’t get on and have had many disagreements in the past, and so I believe that it is a ploy to get me into trouble, and possibly claim against my insurance. The Police are prosecuting me for failing to stop after an accident, as they say that there is damage on my car. The car is old and has many scrapes and dents, mainly because all of my children have learnt to drive in it and these have been acquired over time. How can I prove that I didnít cause the damage. I’m an honest person, and despite not getting on with the owner of the car, I would still be honest and own up to any damage, if I had caused it.
A You cannot be convicted of failure to stop after an accident if either there was no accident, or if you were unaware of it. It is not for you to prove that there was no accident, but rather for the police to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that there was. If only a week or so has passed since the alleged incident, there must be a way that you can piece together what happened that day. Consult with your family, if they live in your house, to work out who was doing what and when. Check your phone and internet records to see whether you were otherwise engaged at the time in question.
What damage is said to have been caused to your neighbourís car? You would expect corresponding damage on your vehicle, so check for matches or not. If all of this draws a blank then itís your neighbourís word against yours. It is for the police to prove either that you knew of the accident, or that you ought reasonably to have known about it, for example by there being a severe jolt or a loud crash at the time. If the alleged damage is only very slight, it is conceivable that it could have happened without your knowledge and if the court accepts this, then you should not be convicted. Although the police have to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt, if they have evidence that you knew or ought reasonably to have known about it, then you only need prove that you did not know about it on a balance of probabilities, i.e. was it more likely than not that you did not know about it. If, after hearing all the evidence, the court is any doubt about your knowledge, then you should be acquitted. Failure to stop is quite a serious offence in that it carries a penalty of between five and ten points, or a discretionary disqualification, so you should make every attempt to resist the charge.
Designed by solicitors, tested by barristers and available around the clock, Road Traffic Representation is an online legal system that allows people accused of a motoring offence to get free advice on how the law will be applied in their case, and referral to a telephone helpline and representation by a barrister in court if required. Practising solicitor Martin Langan spent two years designing the system and creating the data repository which allows the software to analyse road traffic offences with the same authority as a solicitor.