Richard Pusey was standing on the edge of the Eastern Freeway after being intercepted by police and was waiting for police to tow his Porsche away when a truck collided with the stationary vehicles.
After the collision he left the scene. I saw on the news tonight the police claim they are going to charge him under s.61 RSA, failing to render assistance. I was quite surprised when I saw that on tonight's news.
If owing to the presence of a motor vehicle an accident occurs whereby any person is injured or any property (including any animal) is damaged or destroyed, the driver of the motor vehicle—
(a) must immediately stop the motor vehicle; and
(b) must immediately render such assistance as he or she can; and
One of the many issues that will arise is whether Pusey was the driver of his vehicle at the time of the collision. He had left the vehicle, it had been impounded by police who no doubt had the keys, a second police car was called and it had arrived, and a tow truck was on its way.
In Tsolacis v Kelly the Court of Appeal held that a driver who alights a vehicle still comes within the definition of "driver" if the act of driving, parking and alighting were contemporaneous with the legal obligations imposed by s.59 of the Road Safety Act. Even if we assume the same applies to s.61, it is still probable that the Supreme Court would find Pusey was not the driver of his vehicle at the time of the collision. If that is the case, then he can't breach s.61 RSA by leaving the scene of the accident. Unlike s.59, section 61(1) appears to apply to a person who is sitting in the drivers seat at the time of the accident. Section 61(2) of the Act expressly applies to a person after they have parked a motor vehicle, but that subsection does not cover the circumstances of this accident. So the difficulty the police will have is satisfying the court that Pusey has all the obligations of a driver even though he was not in the driver's seat when the truck hit his parked car.