Guide to Car Accident Laws in California

This is a guide to laws about car crashes, collisions, traffic accidents, fender-benders, etc that occur in California. For practical steps to take immediately following a vehicle incident, see our Actions to Take After a Car Accident in California. For more general legal questions about car accidents, see our Guide to Laws about Car Accidents in the U.S.

And if you are a car accident victim and you are physically injured, you should also see our page If I’m Injured, What are My Rights?.

Do I need to report a car accident in California?

For any car crash you are involved in with damages over $1000 (this can be even a fender bender), or where there was an injury or death, you must report it (Form SR 1) to the DMV within 10 days, or your license may be suspended.1Cal Veh Code Sec 16000, Sec 16004

What happens if I get into a car accident and I don’t have insurance?

You can receive a fine of up to $200+, your license will be suspended, and your car will be “impounded” (taken from you temporarily).2Cal Vehicle Code Sec 16070; Sec 16029 Also you are responsible for any damages or injuries you have caused.

Are the drivers involved in an accident required to exchange information?

Yes, legally the following information must be provided: insurance information, driver’s name and current residence address, driver’s license number, vehicle identification number, and current residence address of registered owner.3Cal Vehicle Code Sec 16025

Is a hit and run illegal in California?

Yes.4Vehicle Code Sections 20001 and 20002; 16025

What is the penalty for a hit and run in California?

In California, a hit-and-run can result in up to 4 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.5Vehicle Code Sections 20001 and 20002 In addition, if anyone is hurt or killed, you can be charged with with manslaughter or even murder.

For answers to the following general questions, see our Guide to Laws about Car Accidents in the U.S.

What is the definition of a car accident?

Do I need a lawyer for a car accident claim?

What kind of lawyer handles car accidents?

How much does a car accident lawyer cost?

What if I get injured in a car accident?

What if someone dies in a car accident?

What are my legal rights after a car crash that is not my fault?

What are my legal rights after a car crash that is my fault?

How is fault determined in a car accident?

What are my rights if I experience a “hit and run” incident?

What happens if a self-driving vehicle gets into an accident?

Further Resources

For more general legal questions about car accidents, see our Guide to Laws about Car Accidents in the U.S.

After a car accident it is usually a good idea to talk to a personal injury lawyer to determine what rights you have. You can usually get a free consultation. Find a California car accident lawyer.

Related Pages

Laws for Drivers

Health

What to Do after a Car Accident

See all Legal Guides

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