Q: I was involved in a collision for the first time last week and had no idea what I was supposed to do. What steps should I take?
A: Being involved in a traffic crash can be very traumatic, especially your first one, so it is normal to feel overwhelmed. After any type of vehicle collision, no matter how minor, you must stop. Otherwise you may be convicted of hit and run and could be severely punished.
At the scene of a crash, it is important to share information with the other party or parties involved and with any peace officer at the scene, including driver’s license, vehicle registration card, evidence of insurance and current address.
If you hit a parked vehicle or other property, attempt to locate the owner. If you can’t find the owner, leave a note with your name and address (and/or the name and address of the owner of the vehicle you are driving) and securely attach it to the vehicle. Report the collision without delay to the city police or, in unincorporated areas, to the Highway Patrol.
Following a crash, you or your insurance agent, broker or legal representative are required to take the following actions. Move your vehicle off the street or highway. If you do not move your vehicle or have it removed from the street or highway, any peace officer or authorized personnel may have your vehicle towed and impounded.
If someone is killed or injured, report the collision to the police or Highway Patrol within 24 hours. If there is more than $750 in damage to the property or if any person is injured or killed, report the collision to the DMV within 10 days.
The DMV has a brochure on what to do in the case of a collision. It is available online at www.DMV.ca.gov by clicking the “Publications” tab. Select “Driver License Brochures” from the “Fast Facts and How To Brochures” menu, then click “Vehicle Collisions” and follow the instructions under “What to Do?”
George Valverde was appointed California Department of Motor Vehicles Director in 2006. He has been in public service for more than 30 years, focusing on operations and budget issues. Prior to his DMV appointment, Valverde served as undersecretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency and deputy secretary for fiscal operations.