How to Read a California DMV Report

By Contributing Writer
Rules of the road

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When you get involved in a motor incident in California, whether it's a car accident or a motor law violation, you will receive a DMV report. This report may be difficult to understand since it contains codes regarding what the law officer deemed you were liable for. Each violation has corresponding violation points attached to it, and depending on the number of points you incurred your driving privilege may be suspended. It's critical to understand your DMV report so that you are aware of your violation and take immediate steps to correct it.

Get a copy of your California DMV report if you don't have it yet. Contact the DMV location near you to get a copy of your report for your personal records. The law enforcement officer will usually give you a copy of the report, but if you don't have it handy after the incident, make sure to obtain it from the DMV.

Locate the code "unk." It stands for "unknown" and it means that the information is not immediately known at the time of writing. If you have the supplemental information, you may submit this to the California DMV by contacting your local branch, in order to have a complete file. It's important that you know what this code means so you don't have to worry about translating the code.

Locate the 5- or 6-character code on the form. This code may be comprised of a series of numbers and a letter at the end of the number series. This code corresponds to a violation. It's possible that there may be multiple codes written on the report, so you would need to find out the meaning of each code to be aware of all of your violations.

Cross-check the code against the list of code meanings on the California DMV website. The California DMV website lists all the codes that may be written in the DMV report, next to the type of violation. Since the list is extensive, you may want to locate your code faster by clicking "CTRL+F." The finder box will pop-up and you can type the code as written on your DMV report. The codes are categorized based on point-counts.

Identify what violations you were written up for and record the violation on a piece of paper for later reference. This will help you become more aware of how many violation points to expect on your record. It also allows you to check the accuracy of the violation and report back any inaccuracies to the DMV.

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