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Hit & Run

Hit & Run 2020-06-11T17:37:00+00:00

Your Guide to Leaving the Scene of an Accident Violations by Traffic Lawyers in Calgary

What is Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

Of the over 2 million traffic tickets issued in Alberta each year, leaving the scene of an accident is one of the most serious.

The relevant sections of the Traffic Safety Act of Alberta, state as follows:

Leaving the Scene of an Accident

(2)  The driver of a vehicle that: 

Leaving the Scene of an Accident

According to the Traffic Safety Act, a highway includes any thoroughfare, street, road, trail, avenue, parkway, driveway, viaduct, lane, alley, square, bridge, causeway, trestle way, or any other place that the public is ordinarily permitted to use with their vehicles.

To be convicted of failing to remain at the scene of an accident, the Crown Prosecutor must show that the driver of the vehicle failed to remain at the scene of the accident, or if the driver left the scene, that the driver failed to immediately return to the scene of the accident, unless directed by a peace officer.

Sometimes, the police are unable to locate, track down, or identify the actual driver of the vehicle involved in an accident. If they can prove what vehicle was involved, the registered owner of the vehicle may be charged and found guilty of the offence instead.

Investigation of Failing to Remain at the Scene Violations in Calgary

An investigation of an allegation of failing to remain at the scene in Calgary is typically started by a complaint from a witness to the alleged failing to remain at the scene, a police investigation at the scene of an accident, or the police spotting you leaving the scene of an accident.

The police will request a written, audio, or video statement from the witnesses and launch an investigation.

With over 1,900 police officers, the Calgary Police Service has considerable manpower to devote to such investigations. It is the third largest municipal police force in Canada. The Calgary Police Service Traffic Unit is most likely to investigate.

In the rural areas surrounding Calgary, the RCMP and Sheriffs have authority to investigate these offences.

Penalties for Failing to Remain at the Scene Violations in Calgary

The penalties for a conviction for failing to remain at the scene of an accident are serious:

  • 7 demerit points for failing to remain at the scene of an accident, or 3 demerit points for failing to notify the owner of an unattended vehicle or property damaged in an accident;
  • Up to $2000 fine;
  • Up to 3 month driving suspension;
  • Up to 6 months in jail for the most serious of cases;

Secondary consequences for a failing to remain a the scene conviction can include an increase to insurance premiums, and insurance liability if an accident has occurred.

Defending Failing to Remain at the Scene Violations in Calgary

What are the best defences to failing to remain at the scene violations in Calgary?

With potentially serious penalties, you need a serious defence. Typically, the best defences for a failing to remain at the scene ticket are:

  • Factual Innocence: this is usually the strongest defence if you can show that your vehicle was not involved in an accident.
  • Violation of Constitutional Rights: the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 sets out your rights before and after your arrest. If they were not followed to the letter by the police, it will aid your defence.
  • Necessity: you can avoid a conviction if you can prove that leaving the scene of an accident could not have been avoided by exercising reasonable care or precaution.
  • Technical Defence: While the Crown Prosecutor can ask the Court to amend minor errors on your ticket, some fatal technical errors may result in your charges being dropped. For example, your ticket might be withdrawn if it does not have a date, if the police officer did not sign it, or if your name is spelled incorrectly. Moreover, the police only have six months from the date of the offence to charge you with failing to remain at the scene.
  • No consent: you will not be found guilty if you can show that someone else was driving your vehicle without your consent.

Unlike for a criminal offence under the Criminal Code, the Crown does not have to prove that you intended to leave the scene of an accident. If there is evidence that you left the scene of an accident where someone was injured, or with intent to avoid civil or criminal liability, you may be charged with a criminal offence under the Criminal Code, which states as follows:

Leaving the Scene of an Accident

For more information about the Criminal version of this offence, please visit that section of the website here.

The prosecutor does, however, have to establish that you knew a collision had occurred. In any event, the burden of proof remains on the prosecution. This means that there are many successful defence strategies that our experienced defence lawyers can take, including those outlined above.

Even if the charges proceed and you are found guilty, a good defence can greatly reduce the severity of the consequences.

What can a lawyer do to help me defend against failing to remain at the scene violations in Calgary?

Our lawyers will thoroughly review your disclosure package and determine the best strategy for your specific case. We will then negotiate with the Crown to have your ticket withdrawn or reduced to something with less serious consequences for you.

If your failing to remain at the scene ticket cannot be resolved, we will represent you at trial where we will call evidence, cross-examine any police and civilian witnesses, and make submissions to the Court.

Lawyers are licensed and supervised by the Law Society of Alberta, governed by a provincial Code of Conduct, and have a duty to act in your best interest. “Traffic agents” do not need a law degree and do not typically have any training. Our lawyers, in contrast, have extensive legal training and are subject to significant oversight.

If we raise violations of your Charter rights as a defence, your case will likely be transferred from Traffic Court into Provincial Criminal Court where the case will be argued in front of a Judge. Our lawyers are far better equipped to do so than “traffic agents”.

For more information about the difference between traffic agents and lawyers, and which one may be best suited for your case, please read our article entitled Traffic Offences & Violations Calgary.

What can a lawyer do to help me if I missed my court date for failing to remain at the scene violations in Calgary?

If you fail to attend court on the date listed on your ticket, a warrant will likely be issued for your arrest. One of our lawyers can make an application on your behalf to have your file brought back into court and to have your warrant vacated.

We can even do this without you having to attend court or turn yourself in.

It is therefore crucial that you call our office immediately and speak to one of our traffic lawyers if you missed your court appearance for failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

How can I help defend my failing to remain at the scene violation in Calgary?

If you have been charged with failing to remain at the scene in Calgary, the following can help your lawyer build a strong defence:

  • Making a statement about what happened;
  • Collecting and maintaining all documents and records about the event; and
  • Gathering any photographic evidence that you may have.

As soon as you are released from police custody, start to gather any information that may be of use to your lawyer immediately.

If you are truly proactive about the matter, consider doing the following:

These steps can be very helpful to building an effective defence (or convincing the prosecutor to drop the charges altogether).

How can I fight my failing to remain at the scene violation in Calgary if the court is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Traffic Court is still operating. The only difference is that people do not need to attend court. If you have a court appearance scheduled during the closure, you must contact Traffic Court by telephone, e-mail, or fax to advise them of what you intend to do with your ticket.

You have the option of:

  1. not disputing your ticket but ask for some time to pay the fine,
  2. adjourn your matter, or
  3. plead not guilty and set a trial date.

If you do not contact the court by your scheduled court date, you may be convicted in absence or a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident

Where Can I pay a Fine for a Failing to Remain at the Scene Conviction in Calgary?

If you are convicted of failing to remain at the scene and have to pay a fine, you can pay your fine in person, through the mail, or online.

  1. In-person: You can make a full or partial payment at a registry agent or at any Alberta Provincial Court location.
  2. Mail: You can make a full payment only through the mail by sending your ticket and payment to:

Provincial Ticket Production Centre
601 5th Street SW
Calgary, Alberta  T2P 5P7

Payment must be by cheque or money order made out to the Government of Alberta, with your ticket number written on the back.

  1. Online: You can pay your fine online. You will need your ticket number and a valid debit or credit card.

What Next?

As discussed, failing to remain at the scene violations can be very fact-specific, and a conviction can lead to serious consequences.

We have tried our best to provide a general outline of what you can expect if you find yourself in this situation. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

To learn more about how we can help, please contact our team of traffic lawyers to conduct a thorough review of your situation so that we can tailor a precise strategy that targets your successful defence.

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