New Law: Police Must Mail or Fax Accident Reports – NJSA 39:4-131

Earlier today, the governor signed into law the provisions of S-997. Effective immediately, NJSA 39:4-131, as amended, requires police agencies to send accident reports through the mail or via fax upon request. The police may require as a condition that the person making the request complete a request form and pay the appropriately authorized fee set forth in the statute. The text of the amended statute with the new text highlighted is as follows:

NJSA 39:4-131

The commission shall prepare and supply to police departments and other suitable agencies, forms for accident reports calling for sufficiently detailed information with reference to a motor vehicle accident, including the cause, the conditions then existing, the persons and vehicles involved, the compliance with P.L.1984, c.179 (C.39:3-76.2e et seq.) by the operators and passengers of the vehicles involved in the accident, whether the operator of the vehicle was using a cellular telephone when the accident occurred, and such other information as the chief administrator may require.

Every law enforcement officer who investigates a vehicle accident of which report must be made as required in this Title, or who otherwise prepares a written report as a result of an accident or thereafter by interviewing the participants or witnesses, shall forward a written report of such accident to the commission, on forms furnished by it, within five days after his investigation of the accident.

Such written reports required to be forwarded by law enforcement officers and the information contained therein shall not be privileged or held confidential. Every citizen of this State shall have the right, during regular business hours and under supervision, to inspect and copy such reports and shall also have the right in person to purchase copies of the reports at the same fee established by section 6 of P.L.2001, c.404 (C.47:1A-5). If copies of reports are requested other than in person, an additional fee of up to $5.00 for the first three pages and $1.00 per page thereafter may be added to cover the administrative costs of the report. Upon request, a police department shall send an accident report to a person through the mail or via fax as defined in section 2 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-2). The police department may require the person requesting the report to provide a completed request form and the appropriate fee prior to faxing or mailing the report. The police department shall provide the person requesting the report with the option of submitting the form and providing the appropriate fee either in person, through the mail, or via fax as defined in section 2 of P.L.1976, c.23 (C.19:59-2).

The provisions of any other law or regulation to the contrary notwithstanding, reports obtained pursuant to this act shall not be subject to confidentiality requirements except as provided by section 28 of P.L.1960, c.52 (C.2A:84A-28).

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