How to Get a Police Report for a Car Accident in San Diego

Police Report for a Car Accident in San Diego

California law requires notice to the California Highway Patrol or local city police department within 24 hours of the crash if:

  • Anyone was injured, even slightly
  • Anyone was killed, and/or,
  • Damage to the vehicle was above $1,000.

Do you need to report a car accident to the DMV?

The answer is almost always yes. The SR1 reporting form is required in the situations above. Many times, your insurance company will handle this for you.

Do I need a police report for my car accident?

One of the first things we recommend doing after an accident is calling 911 for an ambulance and the police to arrive to make a report. While it can be time consuming and inconvenient, a police report (also called a Traffic Collision Report or TCR) is necessary for several reasons. Helping to prove the accident occurred, liability, maximize your car accident settlement, and assist your car accident attorney with necessary information to get your fairly compensated for your injuries.

Our bodies go into shock when a car accident happens. The adrenaline can make us feel like we aren’t injured. Sometimes symptoms won’t appear for days or weeks. The police report will help document the where, what, who, when, and how of a car crash. If you don’t have or make one online, then the insurance company may try to fight the claim. The police report will also aid in supporting your claim for property damage.

Why are police reports important for my car accident claim?

When the police arrive, they’re a neutral third party. This is important because in many cases people are upset and tensions can be high. The police will get stories from each side and then create a report based on the circumstances of the accident. While the police report itself is inadmissible in court unless the officer witnessed the accident, they can be a critical step to resolving your claim without having to file a lawsuit.

Police reports also contain the following necessary information:

  • Insurance information for the other driver
  • Where the accident occurred
  • When it occurred
  • Damage sustained to each vehicle
  • Immediate apparent injuries to those involved
  • Witness statements from the scene of the accident
  • Driver statements from those involved

All of these things will be used by your car accident attorney to evaluate your claim. Even if you’re possibly at fault, it’s still smart to have a police report. The other party may make a claim that isn’t supported by what happened. Additionally, even if a police report says you’re at fault, because it’s not admissible in court it could possibly be proven that you weren’t at fault under the circumstances.

How do I file a report?

When the police arrive at the scene, they will ask you questions about what happened. Police will also interview the other driver(s) and any witnesses to the accident to try to put together what happened before, during, and after the accident. Stick to the facts. Don’t exaggerate, guess, or make things up. Doing that will only hurt your claim down the road.

Once the report is written, they will file it with the appropriate office. Sometimes it will take up to 30 days before you can get a copy of the report, but it’s still extremely important in protecting your interests. Make sure to ask for more than one copy.

Obtaining a California Highway Patrol (CHP) Accident Report

If you’re the driver, passenger, owner of the vehicle, or parent, guardian, or heir of someone involved in an accident you can obtain the police report from the CHP.

When you request a report from the CHP, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Date, time, and location of the accident
  • Names of the driver/owner of the vehicle
  • Why you’re requesting the report
  • Copy of driver’s license or ID card
  • A signature on the Request for Report  (this must be notarized if you don’t include a copy of your license or ID)

The CHP charges $10 per report up to 25 pages and up to $40 for a report over this amount.

You can request a copy of the report in person at any CHP office or via mail. If you request it by mail, include a check for the report made out to California Highway Patrol.

You can request a copy of the report in person at any CHP office or via mail. If you request it by mail, include a check for the report made out to California Highway Patrol.

CHP locations in San Diego County can be found at:

  • 7183 Opportunity Rd, San Diego, CA 92111
    (858) 499-7600
  • 5902 Kearny Villa Rd, San Diego, CA 92123
    (858) 293-6000
  • 9330 Farnham St, San Diego, CA 92123
    (858) 650-3600
  • 1722 E Main St, El Cajon, CA 92021
    (619) 401-2000
  • 435 La Tortuga Dr. Vista, CA 92081
    (760) 643-3400

How do I obtain a Traffic Collision Report from the City of San Diego?

There are several ways to obtain the police report if the SDPD showed up to your accident:

  1. Go online or email There is a convenience fee of $10 but it can be printed and is available 24/7.
  2. By Mail
    Send request to:
    SDPD Records
    MS#726, PO Box 121431, San Diego, CA 92112-1431
    Include a stamped, self-addressed envelope, accompanied by a check or money order for the $12 processing fee per report, payable to the City Treasurer.
  3. In Person
    SDPD Records Division
    1401 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
    Hours: M-F 7:30 am to 4:00 pm, first-come, first-served, $12 process fee per report.
  4. Email
    To confirm a report is ready or to ask questions about the report email
  5. Phone
    The SDPD can be reached at (619) 531-2846, M-F, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Note: The SDPD recommends 3-10 business days from the accident to allow the report to be submitted, processed, and approved for release.

What if the police never show up to the accident?

In some jurisdictions, like the City of San Diego, the police may not show up unless certain requirements are met. If you’re in one of these jurisdictions, you’ll have to self-report and file it online.

File a police report with the City of San Diego here

In situations where a fatality occurred or the accident was very serious, the police report can take up to 90 days to be finished due to the investigation.

San Diego Car Accident Lawyer

My name is Daniel Hanecak and I am a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer. I know from personal experience how stressful and time consuming a car accident can be. When you call Hanecak Law Inc., you will speak with me directly. It is my aim to provide you with free and friendly advice. Call me today at (858) 206-4326 for a free case evaluation.

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