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Do the Police Always Respond to Car Accidents in Arizona?

Posted on January 11, 2023 in

While one of the first steps that drivers are often advised to take after a car accident is to report it to the police, law enforcement will not always respond to a car crash in Arizona. Minor collisions, such as fender benders without any injuries, typically do not require police involvement. In this case, you may need to report the crash to the police precinct yourself before consulting with a car accident lawyer in Scottsdale.

Do You Legally Have to Involve the Police After a Car Accident?

Each state has different rules for when a motor vehicle driver legally must report a car accident to law enforcement. According to Arizona Revised Statute 28-666, the driver of a vehicle that is involved in an accident resulting in an injury or death must immediately notify the local police department, office of the county sheriff or nearest highway patrol office by the quickest means of communication. Any crash that causes property damage in excess of $2,000 must also be reported.

Even if your car accident does not result in injuries or death, it is often in your best interest to notify the police by calling 911 right away. Involving the police can help you establish fault for the crash and complete a car insurance claim, as the police report that you receive will contain important information about the wreck. You should also involve the police if you believe the other driver violated a traffic law, such as by running a red light or driving under the influence of alcohol.

Will the Police File an Accident Report?

If a law enforcement agency is notified about a car accident, it will send one or more officers to the scene to investigate and create an accident report. The officer will interview the drivers involved and others at the scene, write down pertinent information about the car accident, and take official photographs at the crash site. Most car accident reports contain at least the following information:

  • The date, time and location of the accident
  • The identifying information of all parties involved
  • The relevant facts of the accident
  • A diagram of the crash scene 
  • What the officer believes caused the accident
  • The investigating officer’s information

The law enforcement agency that responds to the crash has 24 hours to finalize an accident report and forward a copy to the Arizona Department of Transportation. As someone involved in the crash, you can obtain a copy of the accident report by contacting the law enforcement agency and giving them your police report number. You may have to pay a small fee to be mailed a copy. You can also contact the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) to request a collision report.

What if the Police Don’t Show Up?

If the police are not called for a minor accident, they typically will not appear at the crash scene. In this case, it is up to the drivers involved to take the proper steps to fulfill their legal responsibilities before leaving the scene, such as exchanging contact and insurance information or locating the driver of an unattended vehicle. Failing to take these steps could result in a fine of up to $500 and penalties against the driver’s license.

If the police did not respond to your minor car accident, you can still report the crash for documentation purposes by showing up in person at your local police precinct. This can document that the accident occurred, which can help you prove the cause of your property damage to an insurance company. Otherwise, you can proceed with your insurance claim without an accident report. 

For assistance with the car accident claims process in Arizona, contact an attorney for advice that you can trust. A car accident lawyer will help you proceed with an insurance claim with or without a police accident report.