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Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:58 PM

Are accident reports public records?

In 2011 I was hit from behind in New York state at a toll booth. Minor damage to the car and a bit of whiplash for my wife. Insurance took care of it all. The girl who hit me looked maybe 19 and was terrified so I didn't grill her or anything. We called police who spoke to me, then the other driver seperately. He (the policeman) told me the report would be available on line.

Days later when I got home, I searched online and found my licence plate number and the case number. Now, the NY DMV wants to charge me a $7 search fee just to LOOK for the report (non refundable even if the report is not actually there) and $15 for a copy of the report. $22 total.

So.... aren't police/accident reports public records? And as such shouldn't the be available to ANYONE for free? Isn't this "Freedom of information act" stuff? I thought maybe it was just NY that does this but I looked and my home state of Michigan charges $10 for accident reports too.

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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply Are accident reports public records? (Original post)
Takket Jan 2013 OP
Baitball Blogger Jan 2013 #1
Takket Jan 2013 #3
Baitball Blogger Jan 2013 #6
fizzgig Jan 2013 #2
avebury Jan 2013 #4
Major Nikon Jan 2013 #5

Response to Takket (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 12:07 AM

1. In Florida the state determines the price that local government can charge for public records.

It can be hefty, depending on what agency is involved. I would suggest finding the agency in New York that is equivalent to Florida's First Amendment Foundation. It is not uncommon in Florida for local governments to set their own hefty prices, contrary to what the state establishes. When they do that you have to write to the state's Attorney General's Office for assistance.

In fact, start with the New York State Attorney's Office.

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Response to Baitball Blogger (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 12:32 AM

3. report comes straight from state DMV, not a local govmt -nt-

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Response to Takket (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 01:26 AM

6. Even the DMV has to follow State regulations.

Private or public agency, the State Attorney's Office might be helpful in determining if they're gouging.

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Response to Takket (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 12:12 AM

2. foia allows them to charge you for research and copies

but i honestly don't know how police agencies can get away with charging what they do for simply running a search and making a copy.

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Response to Takket (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 12:53 AM

4. In Oklahoma City you have to pay a small fee

to get a copy of a police report. It was something like $2. I am not surprised that you would be charged a fee in NY to get a copy of a report but to get charged a fee just to don an online search does seem to be a bit much. An online search did not require any resources from the state.

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Response to Takket (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 01:18 AM

5. Just because they are available, doesn't mean they are free

If you read the freedom of information laws at both the state and federal level, you'll find that fees can be charged for the delivery of records. At their discretion, government may waive those fees depending on the records involved.

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