Drivers frustrated accident reports are not easily accessible or available online

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Some drivers are finding out the hard way that it can take a while to get an accident report.

Tina Snyder says her teenage daughter was in a wreck in Ballantyne. “Airbags deployed and the car is basically a total loss,” she said.

She needed the accident report for insurance and other reasons, and thought it would be easy to get, but she says it wasn’t. “My insurance agent couldn’t even get the police report,” she told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.

“I was mortified. I did everything I could to try to get this report because we have another child that was injured. That mother needed to know how her medical bills were going to get paid,” she said. “My hands were tied. I felt helpless.”

In February, Stoogenke reported that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department had made significant changes to its policy regarding accident reports. The department used to provide reports until a driver filed a class-action lawsuit claiming the department was breaking the law by giving crash reports to businesses such as law firms and body shops that solicit victims after a wreck. As a result, CMPD decided to stop providing the reports entirely, even to victims.

Now, if someone needs an accident report, they have to mail a form to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles in Raleigh and wait.

Some told Stoogenke it can take weeks to get a report.

“We’re in a technology age where we can get access to anything. Why can’t I have access to my own police report? We needed that just to get moving,” Snyder said.

Stoogenke contacted officials with the NCDMV and asked why it doesn’t put the reports online. A representative told Stoogenke that many law enforcement agencies, including the Highway Patrol, still give out the reports and that CMPD is the exception, adding that it wouldn’t make sense to take the staff and money to start an online system for just one jurisdiction.