The California Highway Patrol, with over 7,000 officers, is among the largest state police forces in the nation. CHP officers patrol California's highways. They also protect state buildings, including the California State Capital, and provide bodyguard protection for state officials. But you'll probably see the CHP most often on the freeways, where they stop speeders, watch for violations of the carpool lanes and investigate accident scenes. If you happen to be involved in one of those accidents, it's pretty easy to obtain a police investigation report from the CHP.
CHP Police Report
In you are in an accident more serious than a fender-bender on a California highway or freeway, it is very likely that the California Highway Patrol will investigate and make a CHP traffic accident report. This report has lots of information you may need in the future, in case you bring a lawsuit against another driver or she brings one against you. You'll also need the CHP collision report to make an insurance claim.
What types of information will the report contain? That depends on the accident itself. The more serious the accident, the more extensive the investigation and report is likely to be. In any event, the report will contain the names and addresses of the drivers, passengers and witnesses, if there are any. You can probably also find driver's license numbers of the drivers and a map of the scene. The report might mention the weather and traffic conditions as well, skid marks, and whether anyone was taken away in an ambulance, as well as the officer's observations. All of this could come in handy if the matter is litigated.
Who Can Get a Copy of the CHP Report?
Only "parties of interest" can get copies of the CHP collision report. Usually a party in interest is either a driver, passenger, someone who owned property that was damaged, a vehicle owner, a parent of a minor passenger or the legal guardian or attorney of any person involved. The insurance companies of any of these individuals can also get a copy of the CHP report. If you think you are a party of interest but you are not sure, contact any CHP office to verify your status.
Read More: Police Report Types
How Can You Get a Copy of the CHP Report?
If you qualify as a party of interest, you can get a copy of a CHP collision report and/or investigation without having to go to the CHP office where the report on the accident was filed. You can use form CHP 190 and mail it or drop it at any convenient CHP office.
The form will ask you for your name and why you qualify as a party of interest. You also need to identify the collision so that you get the right report. Specify the date and location, if possible. List the driver or owner of the vehicle if you were a passenger. To prove that you are who you say you are, you'll need to attach a copy of your driver's license or picture ID card to the CHP 190 form. Otherwise, you must have your signature on the form notarized.
Don't forget to include the fee. You'll need to pay $10 for the first 25 pages, then another $10 for each additional 25 pages or part thereof. For example, if the report is 77 pages, you'll pay $40. Pay this by personal check or money order made out to the California Highway Patrol.
- You can send a request letter for a police report by mail in place of the CHP 190 form.
Teo Spengler earned a JD from U.C. Berkeley Law School. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an MA and an MFA in English/writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.