How to Read Police Reports

If you’ve been involved in an accident that was investigated by the police, you’ll need to learn how to read police reports in order to pursue your claim against the responsible party or parties.The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) maintains records of accidents that occurred on a state highway.DPS officers have up to 14 days to complete and submit their reports to the Department Records Sections. Thus, people who were involved in accidents are asked to wait two weeks to check on whether a report is available. The number to call is 602-223-2230 or 2236.

How to Get a Police Report

DPS accident reports may be requested using this form, and the form should be sent to the address here. Copies of accident reports by mail must be accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope and the appropriate fee. The fee is $9 for the first nine pages and $1 for each additional page; thus, you’ll need to call first to find out how many pages are in your report. Photographic contact sheets are $10 and individual photos (either 8×10 or 4×6) are $4 each. CDs are $35 each, if available.

Note that no cash or personal checks are accepted by mail. Only business checks, cashier’s checks, or money orders may be sent. Checks and money orders should be made out to Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Police reports may also be requested in person at the DPS office at 2102 West Encanto Boulevard, Phoenix. The office is open from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday and closed on state holidays. Cash, business checks, and money orders (but not credit or debit cards) are accepted for in-person requests.

If an accident occurred on a city or county road, the law enforcement agency that investigated the accident will have the report.

In Chandler, you can request a police report using this form. The cost is $5 plus 15 cents per page for each page over 35. However, there is no charge for people listed as victims. Payment may be made by cash, check, or money order. The normal processing time is 7 to 10 business days.

You can also see a Chandler accident report online at this site. You’ll need to know the date of the accident AND the report number in order to view the report.

How to Read a Police Report

Here are some things to look for when you’re reading a police report:

  • Start by reading the narrative section of the report. This will tell the “story” of the accident in chronological order, and will include statements made by witnesses. The narrative will give you an overview of the accident (as seen by the police) and help you understand other parts of the report.
  • At the end of the narrative the officer’s name, badge number, and department should be listed, along with the date of the report. If you believe that the report contains errors, start by contacting the officer who wrote the report to request corrections.
  • At the end of the report there may be an addendum, which is a continuation of the narrative. This is where the police add information discovered after the original narrative section was completed.
  • The cover page of the report will include the names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth of the parties involved in the accident. The cover page will also include the date, time, and location of the accident. Insurance information should also be listed here.
  • The section after the cover page will list details about the accident like points of impact,tire impressions, and estimated speeds of the vehicle(s) involved.

Although you can get a police report yourself, your personal injury attorney can do this for you. Your attorney can also request corrections to any errors in the report.

If you have been in an accident, contact Thompson Law Firm in Chandler, AZ to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

We provide personal injury legal services to clients in the greater Phoenix area including: Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Maricopa, Globe, and Queen Creek.


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