An individual can obtain a California Highway Patrol (CHP) report regarding an incident involving Driving Under the Influence (DUI) by making a public records request. The individual can call or visit the CHP Area office closest to them. The individual should check the list of CHP offices to determine which office to contact.
CHP Jurisdiction for Law Enforcement
The California Highway Patrol has jurisdiction to patrol all California highways, including interstate highways like Interstate 10. This body of officers can enforce the law anywhere in the state. A CHP officer may arrest an individual on a highway, as well as on a city or county road statewide. They also may assist city and county agencies in patrolling local streets.
DUI Checkpoints Allowed
The CHP engages in numerous measures to prevent drunk driving. These include sobriety inspection checkpoints on California highways. An individual who drives up to a DUI checkpoint is required to stop and submit to the inspection. A checkpoint must follow certain rules, including having clear signs to advertise the checkpoint before it occurs.
Other rules for a checkpoint include requiring officers to situate a checkpoint in a reasonable place, run the checkpoint when it will be effective, and maintain a safe flow of traffic.
Information to Include in Request
An individual should include the following information in their request for the release of information: the date or dates of the record; the location where the incident occurred or arose; the subject of the record, meaning the DUI; and a clear and specific description of the record, such as “DUI that occurred near Exit 400B, Rengstorff Avenue in Mountain View.”
The individual should include any additional information that assists staff in identifying the record. For example, helpful details could include: the driver was in a red Camaro; the driver hit a traffic barrier; the driver was speeding 30 miles over the posted speed limit; or the driver was traveling north.
The individual should include their contact information if they want to be notified when the request is available. Any person can make a public records request. This means a person’s attorney or their employer can obtain a CHP DUI report. A CHP report will look similar to a police report.
CPRA Provides Access
An individual is given prompt access to public records by California Government Code Section 6253, also known as the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA). The 10-day period mentioned in the statute is not a deadline for producing records; the CHP office can take longer to produce the records.
If the record is voluminous, the CHP office may have stored it in another location, so it could take longer than usual to produce the record. The CHP office will communicate with the party requesting the information to let them know when the office can produce the record.
Police Report and CHP Report
Under certain circumstances, there may be a police report and a CHP report on the same incident or person. This could be true if the driver led police officers on a chase on city streets and state highways. The defendant and their attorney should review the reports to see how the documents overlap. This will help them understand what evidence the state will present.
Requesting the Police Report
A defendant or their attorney can get a copy of a police report from the prosecutor if the individual is charged in a criminal case. A victim of a DUI that involved damage or personal injury can mail a written request to the police department or the sheriff’s office that employed the arresting officer. In Los Angeles County, a victim should mail their written request to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Records & Identification (R&I) Division.
Employment Discrimination and DUIs
California law provides that it is unlawful for an employer with five or more employees to include a question about a disclosure of an arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction. California law further makes it illegal to base employment, job offers, promotions and detentions on a record of arrest or detention that did not lead to a conviction. The law prohibits discrimination against a person with multiple DUI arrests, but no DUI convictions.
An employer also may not discriminate against an individual who has been arrested for a DUI and referred to, or participated in, a pretrial or post-trial diversion program. In addition, an employer may not discriminate against an employee because their DUI conviction has been sealed, dismissed or expunged. Despite this fact, there are certain offices, like law enforcement agencies, that are allowed to reject applicants even because of an expunged DUI conviction.
An individual who thinks an employer has acted illegally should consult an employment law attorney about how the law applies to the particular employer.
Driver’s License Affected by DUI
An employer can make changes to an employee’s duties if the employee has been arrested for a DUI, and the case is awaiting trial. When an employee has their driver’s license revoked or suspended due to a DUI, they may no longer be able to perform duties that involve driving. An employee who is concerned about their future with the employer should talk to their criminal defense attorney about their case first to see the direction in which the case is headed. A defendant should look into the possibility of a DUI charge getting dropped to a “dry reckless” driving charge.
State of California Driver’s Record Request
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allows an individual to print their driver’s record after logging into the department’s online portal. An online record is not an official document, so an individual who needs an official document must complete and mail a Request for Driver’s License form to the DMV’s office in Sacramento.
An individual can also make a request for a driver’s record at a DMV field office. A driver’s record request must include the record number or title, the number of copies the individual wants, the name of the business requesting the record, the telephone number of the business, a contact name and a street address for the requesting party. The California DMV will not deliver a driver’s record request to a P.O. box address.
- California Highway Patrol: California Public Records Act
- Los Angeles Police Department: Obtaining Police Information
- California Highway Patrol: CHP Map
- California Government Code: Section 6253, Inspection of Public Records
- California Government Code: Section 12952, Unlawful Discrimination Practices
- California Department of Motor Vehicles: Driver's Record Request
- California Department of Motor Vehicles: Vehicle or Driver's Record Requests
- California Highway Patrol: Impaired Driver Enforcement Programs
- California Vehicle Code: Section 2814.2, Lawful Orders and Inspections
- Stanford Law School: Ingersoll v. Palmer (1987)
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.