Motor Vehicle Accidents (WA)
In Western Australia, anyone who is involved in a motor vehicle accident is required to stop at the scene and help anyone who is injured. Persons involved in motor vehicle accidents must give their name and address and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle involved to anyone who has been injured or whose property has been damaged, as well as to the police. Failing to do so is a criminal offence that can lead to a fine or a term of imprisonment as well as disqualification from driving.
In Western Australia, drivers must immediately report motor vehicle accidents that occur on a road or a place used by the public, if the incident resulted in injury. They must also report an accident that has resulted in property damage amounting to more than $3000, or where there is damage to property belonging to someone who is not present. If the police don’t attend the scene, the accident can be reported at a police station or online. The laws that govern motor vehicle accidents in Western Australia are the Road Traffic Act 1974, and the Motor Vehicle (Third Party Insurance) Act 1943.
Offences relating to accidents
A driver involved in a motor vehicle accident must give their details to the police. If they refuse or give false details to police they commit an offence, which is punishable by a fine of $300 for a first offence and $600 for a subsequent offence.
Any person who is a potential witness to a motor vehicle accident must give their particulars to the police if requested to do so. If a person refuses or gives false particulars they may be fined $200. If the police are not contacted and there is more than $3000 in property damage then the accident is required to be reported immediately. If it is not reported, parties may be fined $400 for a first offence and $800 for a subsequent offence.
A person who fails to report an accident has a valid defence if they believed that the property damage amounted to less than $3000, and the owner of the property or someone acting on their behalf was present at the scene. A driver also has a defence if they were unable to make a report because they were injured in the accident.
The person responsible for a vehicle involved in an accident is required to give any information they have which may help identify the driver to police if the police don’t know who the driver was. If they fail to do so, the penalty for a first offence is $1200 and for a subsequent offence $2400 where the offender is an individual. If this offence is committed by a company the penalty is $5000.
Offence of failing to give details to other parties
If property is damaged in an accident the drivers involved must stop immediately and give their details and the details of the vehicle’s owner to every other person involved in the accident. The penalty for failing to provide these details is $1500. The court may also disqualify a driver who is guilty of this offence for as long a period as it chooses.
It is a defence to this offence if the driver was unable to provide their details because they were injured in the accident, or if they were unaware that the accident had occurred.
Offences relating to accidents resulting in death or injury
If a driver is involved in an accident where death or injury has resulted and does not provide their details to the police, they face a fine of $1500. It is a defence to this charge if the driver couldn’t provide their details because of an injury sustained in the accident. If the driver fails to report the accident to the police and a death results from the accident, they face a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a minimum disqualification period of 12 months. If the matter is dealt with in the Magistrates Court then the maximum penalty is 12 months imprisonment and a disqualification period of at least 12 months.
If it is not known who the driver of the vehicle was, the vehicle’s owner must give the police any information that may help to identify the driver. If they fail to do so, or if they provide false information, they face a fine of up to $3000 or up to 12 months imprisonment.
Other offences where injury or death has been caused
If a person is injured in an accident, the drivers involved must stop and stay at the scene for as long as is necessary to provide their details to everyone involved and to make sure any injured party receives any help that is necessary and practicable. If a party fails to so do and the accident leads to a death, the party has committed an offence with a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment. If a party is seriously injured in the accident, the maximum penalty that applies is 14 years imprisonment. If the injury was not serious the maximum penalty applicable is 10 years imprisonment, or if the matter is dealt with summarily, three years imprisonment. The court may also disqualify the driver from driving for as long a period as it sees fit.
It is a defence to this charge if the driver was unaware that an accident had occurred.
If a driver involved in an accident doesn’t provide their particulars to an injured person, there is a penalty of $1500. It is a defence to this charge if the driver couldn’t comply because of an injury they sustained in the accident. The driver and the vehicle owner are also required to advise the Insurance Commission of WA of the accident and to answer any questions it has, but only if an online police report wasn’t made.
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