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 $750 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 $750. 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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More about Financial Responsibility Hearings at the California DMV

By | 2017-05-07T05:03:52+00:00 February 3rd, 2016|Financial Responsibility|0 Comments

About the Author:

Rob Collier
Mr. Collier served with distinction as a Law Enforcement Specialist with the United States Air Force and received an honorable discharge. He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Security Police Academy and the United States Army Police Investigators School. While stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, Mr. Collier was one of the first Security Police Specialists to provide “close‐in” security for Space Shuttle Missions when that program was new. Mr. Collier is a Distinguished Graduate of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Academy (Class 228) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Weapons and Tactics School (SWAT). He received specialized training in basic accident investigation and determining speed from skids at the San Bernardino Sheriff Academy. For nearly 15 years, Mr. Collier was the Operations Officer for one of the most prominent specialty DUI law firms in the country. Reporting directly to that firm’s owner, Mr. Collier directed the day to day operations of DUI attorneys, investigators, expert witnesses and support staff. He developed the firm’s “white glove” policy of client care that is now the hallmark of our company. He has been involved in the preparation, investigation, and presentation of literally thousands of DMV administrative hearings throughout Southern California. Receiving hands on training from defense attorneys, retired DMV hearing officers, and some of the best scientific experts in the field, Mr. Collier possesses a unique level of experience; making him a true expert in the field of Administrative Advocacy. Mr. Collier is our Chief Advocate and available to represent clients in all categories of DMV hearings in California. If your case is assigned to one of our other professional advocates, Mr. Collier will personally review and supervise each case. He is accessible to each and every one of our clients.