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What is a Reportable Traffic Collision at the DMV

What does the DMV consider to be a reportable traffic Collision?

The California Vehicle Code (CVC) specifically requires the reporting of any traffic collision in the State of California when:

  • The traffic collision causes property damage of $1000 or greater;
  • The traffic collision causes an injury (however slight);
  • The traffic collision causes a death

Did you know however that a traffic collision does not necessarily mean the impact between two motor vehicles? There are many instances where traffic collisions do not involve the meeting of motor vehicles. Examples of traffic collisions are:

  • Two or more vehicles actually making contact with one another;
  • A motor vehicle striking a pedestrian;
  • A motor vehicle striking a fixed object (i.e. wall, pole, dirt embankment);
  • A motor vehicle overturning and not striking anything;
  • A passenger falling inside of a motor vehicle being operated on a public roadway.

Why are traffic collisions reported to the DMV?

There is no question that the California DMV acts much like “Big Brother” by monitoring the driving record of all drivers in California. The California Vehicle Code makes it mandatory that all “reportable” traffic collisions be reported to the DMV in a timely manner. Essentially this is done for two reasons:

  • Allows the DMV to monitor the driving history of all drivers to determine if they are Negligent Operators.
  • Allows the DMV to ensure that all motorists are in compliance with California’s compulsory Financial Responsibility Law by maintaining liability auto insurance.

How is a traffic collision reported to the DMV?

Whenever a California driver is involved in a reportable traffic collision, he or she is mandated to notify the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the incident within the first ten (10) calendar days. The method of reporting the traffic collision to the DMV is by preparing and filing a DMV Form SR-1.

The SR-1 identifies those parties involved; whether or not there were any injuries, and whether or not damages exceeded $1000. The SR-1 form also documents whether or not the parties involved demonstrated Proof of Financial Responsibility.

In many instances, traffic collisions are investigated by law enforcement agencies who then prepare their own version of a traffic collision report. Although these reports are useful to document the facts and events surrounding the traffic collision, and although the law enforcement reports are useful tools for insurance companies and prosecutors, it DOES NOT satisfy the reporting requirement to the DMV. The only acceptable means of reporting the traffic collision to the DMV is with the SR-1 Form.

Additionally, the law requires that all parties involved in a traffic collision prepare and file the SR-1 Form with the DMV regardless of fault.

If I don’t have auto insurance, must I still report a traffic collision to the DMV?

The answer is yes. The only traffic collisions that do not require reporting to the DMV are those where:

  • There is no property damage with a value of $750 or greater;
  • There was no injury whatsoever;
  • There was no fatality.

A driver is not absolved from reporting a traffic collision to the DMV simply because they do not have auto insurance. In fact, not reporting a traffic collision to the DMV by way of an SR-1 Form is good cause for the DMV to suspend or revoke your driver license.

The ugly truth here, however, is that if you do not have Proof of Financial Responsibility and you report your involvement in a traffic collision, this will very likely cause the DMV to begin a suspension or revocation of your driver license because you did not have proper auto insurance. Essentially, you’re in a no-win situation.

If you have been involved in a reportable traffic collision and you were not properly covered by auto insurance at the time, telephone the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates, Inc. We can advise you on how best to protect your rights and your driver license.

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