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The California Highway Patrol

Accident Investigation Unit - Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: Do I have to see the traffic collision happen in order to be a witness?

    • No. You may have other useful information supporting circumstances surrounding the collision:
      • See driver talking on the cell phone prior to the collision.
      • See the driver consume alcohol prior to driving.
      • See the driver in the driver's seat after the collision.
      • See unsafe driving prior to a collision.
      • Hear statement from a person.
      679.01(c) CPC: "Witness" means any person who has been or is expected to testify for the prosecution, or who, by reason of having relevant information, is subject to call or likely to be called as a witness for the prosecution, whether or not any action or proceeding has yet been commenced.

    Q: Can both parties involved in a collision be found at fault?

    • Yes. The investigating officer will make a determination of which party is most at fault. If the second party also contributed to the collision, then the investigating officer may list them as an "Other Associated Factor" in the cause of the collision.


    Q: When involved in a traffic collision, is it legal for me to move my vehicle from a collision scene?

    • Yes and no.
      • For a property damage only collision, you may move your vehicle. You should move your vehicle out of the roadway to a point of safety. This includes moving to the shoulder or off of the freeway at the next off-ramp.

        After reaching a point of safety, you must notify the other involved party and/or notify law enforcement.

      • For an injury collision, you are required to stop your vehicle at the scene and fulfill the obligations of sections 20004 and 20005 CVC.

        For safety, you are permitted to move your vehicle to the shoulder, out of the roadway and remain there to fulfill your obligations. After moving your vehicle you must notify the other involved party and/or law enforcement.


    Q: What information is important to give to the investigating officer?

    • Information before, during, and after the collision, specifically about the involved people, vehicles, and environment.
      • Some basic information may include:
        • Who was driving?
        • Which vehicles were involved?
        • Which direction?
        • Which lane?
        • What speed?
        • On which highway?
        • Where did the collision occur?
        • Who did what?
        • What happened after the collision?


    Q: Who can get a copy of the collision report?

    • Any involved or interested party.
    • Interested parties include but are not limited to:
      • Insurance companies
      • Attorneys
      • Coroner
      • Caltrans
      • Parents of minors


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