Do I Need to Report a Car Accident to the DMV?

Two damage cars after accident
••• Eric Van Den Brulle/ Stone/ Getty Images

Car accidents bring about a lot of different questions and are no fun for anyone involved. The stress put on a person at the time of an accident and soon after can be overwhelming, not to mention a financial and emotional burden. Knowing what to do and what to expect can bring the stress level down significantly. 

After an accident, you know that you need to make sure you and others involved are safe, document what happened to the vehicles involved as well as any medical injuries, coordinate with the other driver involved if there is one, and usually contact both the police to file a report and your insurance company to file a claim. If you’re in an at-fault accident, you know that this documentation is even more important.

After an accident, you may be wondering if you need to report a car accident directly to the DMV. Thankfully, contacting the DMV after a car accident is one task you will not need to do unless your paperwork is not in order. And if your paperwork is not in order, unfortunately, you can almost guarantee that the DMV will be the one contacting you.


The DMV, Department of Motor Vehicles, keeps track of your driving record. They are also responsible for quite a few other driving-related tasks, such as:

  • Administering Driving Tests
  • Issuing New Drivers’ Licenses
  • Issuing Renewals on Drivers’ Licenses
  • Tracking Driving Records
  • Administering Vision Checks
  • Verifying Insurance Information
  • Assigning License Plates for All Motor Vehicles
  • Administering Renewal of License Plates
  • Collecting Tax on Vehicle Purchases
  • Replacing Lost Titles
  • After a Car Accident

After a car accident, the police are typically called by one or both parties, or a bystander, to come out and assess the situation, hand out citations, and determine who is at fault. If a ticket is issued for speeding, failure to yield, or another violation, the police will notify the DMV and the infraction will be noted on the driver record of the at-fault party.

All insurance carriers track at-fault accidents by claims filed. When you file an insurance claim, whether you want to repair the damage to your vehicle or the payout goes to another party such as an auto mechanic, the insurance carrier will then mark the claim as at-fault or not-at-fault. Your driver's license points and car insurance points are two different point systems. The points on each are not always calculated in the same way. And of course, the consequences are different: points on your driving record could add up to an eventual suspended or revoked license while points on your insurance record will generally lead to increased insurance costs for you (and in extreme cases, possible revocation of your insurance policy).

When To Contact The DMV After An Accident

  • Issued A Citation For No Proof of Insurance
  • Issued A Citation For No Driver's License
  • Issued A Citation For A Major Violation Affecting Your Driving Status

If you were found to be driving with no proof of insurance or a suspended or expired license, you will need to contact the DMV. You will need to provide proof of updated paperwork in order to get your driver's license in good standing. Failure to provide the necessary documentation can lead to fines and suspension of your license.

If you lost your license due to the circumstances of an accident, then you will need to sort it out with the court and eventually straighten it out at the DMV. Once your suspension period is over, you can get your license reinstated at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

When Police Are Not Called to the Accident

If no police are called out to the accident, still there is no reason to contact the DMV. If you are the not-at-fault party and want the accident filed, you need to call the police. For your information, police will not come out if the accident occurred on private property, this often includes store parking lots.

Single car accidents or minor car accidents with no injuries often go unreported. No ticket is issued and the DMV will not be notified. The insurance company only finds out about the accident if a claim is filed. A claim filed for a single-car accident is almost always considered to be at-fault and you will probably see a surcharge at your next policy renewal.

You will need to call your car insurance agency if you are in an accident and have a claim to file. Filing a claim may not even be necessary if you do not have the proper coverage or the damage is less than your deductible. Check with your insurance agent if you are unsure of what to do after an accident. He will be able to help guide you through the claims process.