This petition was submitted during the 2017–2019 Conservative government

Petition Increase the sentence for failure to stop after a fatal road traffic collision

My brother, Andy Lindup, was killed in a hit and run in Dec 2016. By the time the driver was arrested, it was too late to breathalyse him and gather evidence for a charge of dangerous driving for which he could have faced up to 14 years in prison. Instead he got just 6 months for failure to stop.

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The sentence for failing to stop after a fatal road collision must be made equal to the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving. Otherwise, there is absolutely no incentive for drivers to stop. Why would anyone stop if they knew they could face 14 years as opposed to just 6 months? My family will never know if the driver who killed my brother was under the influence or not. If he wasn’t, maybe he would have stopped if the law was different. If he was, then the law has let him escape justice.

This petition is closed This petition ran for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 28 November 2018

The offence of failing to stop should not be used to punish an offender for a serious, but not proven, offence. Other offences can be used if there is evidence of other criminal behaviour.

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We were very sorry to hear of the distressing circumstances when Mr Lindup was killed by a driver who failed to stop at the time and our sympathies are with his family and friends. Not knowing whether, in the absence of any evidence, the offender may have faced a higher penalty must be upsetting and that in the circumstances the offender could only be charged with the lesser offence of failing to stop.

Under Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 drivers who cause personal injury or damage to another vehicle or property must stop and, if required, give their name and address, the name and address of the owner of the vehicle and any identification marks of the vehicle. If the driver does not give their name and address they are obliged to report the accident to the police as soon as reasonably practicable and in any case within 24 hours. A driver is liable to report even if they were not at fault. Failure to comply with these requirements is an offence which carries a maximum penalty of 6 months' imprisonment.

Failure to stop and report offences are often referred to as “hit and run” but in the vast majority of cases convictions for failing to stop are for low level traffic offences. In 2017 3,441 convictions for failure to stop and report offences involved low level traffic incidents where, for example, a driver clipped the wing mirror of another vehicle in a narrow street. This type of offending is reflected in current sentencing practice and by far the most common sentence for this offence is a fine.

In a small number of cases the failure to stop or report may be related to an event which leads to the death or serious injury of another person. Where there is evidence that the driver caused harm there is a range of offences for which the driver may be charged including causing death or serious injury from dangerous or careless driving and the courts will treat the failure to stop as a further and aggravating factor in the sentencing decision. Where the driver takes action to avoid detection this may amount to perverting the course of justice, an offence which carries a life sentence maximum.

The tragic stories behind the statistics, such as Mr Lindup’s, is a reminder that we must continue to keep offences and penalties under review to ensure the courts have sufficient powers to deal with driving offences.

Department for Transport