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Charges Following a Car Accident in South Australia

If you are involved in a car accident in South Australia you are required by law to do certain things, including:

  • stopping at the accident site
  • helping injured persons, and
  • assisting police with their investigations.

If you fail to do so, you may be charged.

You may also be charged with a number of other offences after a car accident in South Australia some of which carry serious consequences.

Responsibilities after a car accident

Traffic Accidents SA
The Road Traffic Act 1961 states that a driver of a motor vehicle involved in a car accident in South Australia must stop their vehicle and give all assistance possible if a person has been killed or injured as a result of the accident.

In addition, the motorist must present at a police station to provide information regarding the accident no more than 90 minutes after it occurs.

If a motorist fails to comply with these rules, they may face a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years and / or a driving disqualification of at least 1 year.

Careless driving

Section 45 of the South Australian Road Traffic Act 1961 states that a motorist may be charged after an accident if they were driving their vehicle without due care or attention.

Higher penalties will apply where the motorist caused injury or death as a result of their careless driving, or where they were trying to evade police, driving under the influence, or speeding excessively.

The maximum penalty for this offence is up to 12 months in jail and / or a driving disqualification period of at least 6 months.

Driving uninsured or unregistered

A motorist in South Australia will be charged with an offence if they drive without the correct compulsory third party (CTP) insurance, or if they leave an uninsured vehicle standing on a road. This will come to light following an accident when you exchange insurance information with the other party.

The penalty for uninsured driving is a fine of up to $10,000.

Similarly, if after an accident a police officer discovers your vehicle is unregistered, you will be liable to pay a fine of up to $7,500.

Driving unlicensed or suspended

Very strict penalties will apply to a motorist involved in a car accident in South Australia where they are also driving unlicensed or while disqualified or suspended. The penalties vary depending upon the charge:

Charge Penalty
Unlicensed driving Fine of approximately $1,250
Unlicensed driving (never held licence)   Fine of approximately $2,500 first offence Fine of $5,000 and 1 year imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence
  Suspended / disqualified driving   6 months imprisonment for first time offence Up to 2 years imprisonment for any subsequent offence

In addition, you may also be disqualified from holding a licence for a period determined by the Court.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

After a car accident in South Australia, police will routinely check whether drugs and / or alcohol were a factor.

If a police officer finds evidence of any drugs or alcohol in your system at the time of the crash, you will be charged with an offence of driving under the influence (DUI) and / or a drug driving offence. The penalties for these offences vary from fines and driving suspension periods to terms of imprisonment of up to 12 months.

For example, a first time drink driving offender will receive a fine of up to $1,600 or 3 months imprisonment and a licence disqualification for at least 12 months. Any further breaches will attract a higher fine or term of imprisonment and a suspension or disqualification from driving of no less than 3 years.

Your rights and obligations

Under South Australian legislation, police officers have the right to ask you certain questions and request that you provide information.

While you do have some rights in refusing to answer questions asked of you, it is always wise to comply with a police direction especially in the event of a car accident. In these cases, refusing to answer could result in a criminal charge.

Following a car accident in South Australia, police will most likely only ask very general questions such as your name, address, date of birth, facts surrounding the traffic accident and other broad questions that will assist in the investigation of the accident.

This article reflects the state of the law as at 1 December 2015. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at


Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is one of our Legal Practice Directors and the National Practice Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master’s in Criminology. Michelle has had a varied career, working in commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. Michelle joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2011. She now supervises a team of over 80 solicitors across Australia.

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