The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles requires, pursuant to G.L. c. 90, § 26, that every driver of a motor vehicle which is involved in an accident in which any person is killed, or injured or in which there is damage in excess of $1,000.00 must file an accident report within five (5) days of the accident. The original accident report must be filed with the Mass. RMV and another copy must be sent to the police department which had jurisdiction over the location where the car accident occurred. Police accident reports, which are considered public records, may be admitted as evidence in both civil and criminal trials.
If the driver who was involved in the accident is not the owner of the car, and he or she is physically incapable of filing the accident report, the vehicle’s owner is required to file the report, within 5 days, based on any knowledge which as he might have and such information that he can obtain regarding the collision.
The Mass. RMV has the legal authority to file a supplementary written report whenever the Registry believes that the accident report contains insufficient information.
The Registry can suspend or revoke the license of anyone who fails to file an accident report, as required. The failure to file an accident report is one of the approximately 65 ways to have your driver’s license suspended in Massachusetts. However, in certain situations, drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents have constitutional privileges against self-incrimination which excuse them from filing accident reports where the accident report filing requirement unconstitutionally infringes on the person’s rights under the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This rule applies where there is a threat of self-incrimination, such as those involving DUI, operating under the influence, operating so as to endanger, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, vehicular homicide, DUI causing serious bodily injury, and similar criminal offenses.