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Legal obligations of driver or rider

What a vehicle driver, rider or cyclist must do if there is an accident.

If a person driving a motor vehicle (or specified vehicle such as a bicycle) is involved in an accident, even if there has been no personal injury, the driver, rider or cyclist must immediately stop and assist. Failing to stop after an accident may result in the driver being charged with an offence.

See ss. 61(1), 61A(1)—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Reporting to police

If a person is injured, or there is damage to property or an animal, the driver or cyclist must also give the injured person, or their representative, and the police:

  • their name and address
  • the name and address of owner of vehicle, and
  • the registration number of vehicle (if there is one).

If police did not attend the accident scene and there was any injury or damage to property (apart from the driver's vehicle), the driver or cyclist must report the accident and leave their details at the nearest police station.

See ss. 61(1)(d), (f); 61A(1)(d), (f)—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Vehicle moved by itself

A person also has obligations if the accident happened because a vehicle that had been left standing on a road (or related area) moved by itself from the position it was parked. If any person or animal was injured or property damaged in this accident then the person who left the vehicle in that place must assist and report to police as far as circumstances allow this.

See ss. 61(2),61A(2)—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Penalties

Property damage only

If no person is killed or suffers injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident, but there has been property damage, a driver who doesn’t comply with the legal obligations (see above) is guilty of an offence.

For a first offence not more than 5 penalty units or imprisonment for not more than 14 days.

For a subsequent offence not more than 10 penalty units or imprisonment for not less than 14 days and not more than 1 month.

Person injured but not seriously

If a person is injured (but not seriously) as a result of a motor vehicle accident, a driver who doesn’t comply with the legal obligations is guilty of an offence.

For a first offence not more than 80 penalty units or imprisonment for not more than 8 months.

For a subsequent offence not more than 240 penalty units or imprisonment for not less than 4 months and not more than 2 years.

Death or serious injury

If a driver of a motor vehicle knows (or should have known) they killed a person or caused them to suffer serious personal injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident, the driver is guilty of an indictable offence if they fail to immediately:

  • stop the motor vehicle, and
  • provide assistance.

If found guilty they will face a Level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum) or a level 5 fine (1200 penalty units maximum).

In addition, the court must cancel all driver licences (and permits) and disqualify the driver from obtaining one for:

  • a first offence, at least 4 years if a conviction is recorded and at least 2 years in any other case
  • a subsequent offence, at least 8 years if a conviction is recorded and at least 4 years in any other case.

What is a serious injury?

A serious injury is an injury that:

  • endangers life
  • is substantial and protracted
  • destroys the foetus of a pregnant woman.

This definition is that same as the Crimes Act definition.

See s. 15—Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and s. 3—Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Cyclists or riders

The penalties for cyclists are slightly different see Careless cycling and accidents.

More information

Legislation

Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)

  • s. 61—duty of driver if accident occurs
  • s. 61A—duty of driver, rider or other person if accident involves a specified vehicle

See Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)

  • s. 15—defines a serious injury as being the same as the Crimes Act 1958 definition

See Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Updated