Involved in a Car Accident? How to Interact with a Police Officer


Most people consider themselves to be careful and considerate drivers who pay close attention to what they are doing whenever they are behind the wheel. They may never have been involved in an accident of any type before, but all of a sudden, they've become involved in a mild accident. After the initial shock wears off you have to have your wits about you, especially if it's unclear who was at fault. You may be unsure of your rights in this situation and not know what to do if you are approached by a police officer at the scene. What are your obligations at this time?

Understand the Letter of the Law

When you first passed your test and took possession of a licence, you assumed a number of important responsibilities. For example, you're required to give the police a certain amount of information should they request it in the proper manner and will need to do this whenever you are involved in an accident that causes damage.

Remain Calm

You may be concerned about any potential legal ramifications, if you're found to be negligent behind the wheel and in some cases, this could affect your ability to earn a living. Nevertheless, you must remain calm in this type of situation and always abide with the letter of the law.

Know Your Rights

At the accident scene, a police officer is not allowed to "force" you to answer specific questions relating to the incident and in most cases, you should not volunteer any of this information either. Some people are so flustered by the whole occasion that they will tell everyone that they are sorry about what happened, that they weren't able to slow down because of various circumstances or so on. This is the last thing that you should do in this situation, as all of this can be subsequently debated when there's less pressure. However, you are required to give general information to the police officer when they demand it, so long as they do so in a certain way.

Remember Your Obligations

For example, you are required to give your name and address, together with details of those who may have been travelling with you in the car. You may also be required to show them your driving licence to prove that you were allowed to pilot the vehicle at the time. If you are not the owner of the vehicle in question, you have to give the details of the registered owner, with their name and address as well.

Follow the Correct Procedure

However, the officer has to identify themselves properly and provide evidence if they are not in police uniform. They have to tell you why they are demanding your details and should also tell you that you are required by law to comply. If you don't give this information at first request, then the officer must tell you that you are at risk of committing a criminal offence.

Can You Fight It?

If the authorities subsequently suggest that you did not comply at the scene of an accident, you may be able to fight this charge in certain circumstances. Consult with a traffic lawyer first, however to be sure of your ground.


30 August 2018

Learning about the law

I love watching legal dramas from all different countries. I often call up my friend who is a lawyer to ask her about whether the cases I have seen on the latest drama are realistic or if they wouldn't happen that way in Australia. It's so interesting to me to see the changes that they make to make the stories flow more convincingly as well as the differences between the law in Australian compared to other countries. This blog is for other fans of legal dramas like me and has some tips on the best places to get real legal advice (hint, it's not on the TV!).