How to get the police report in your DUI case
If you have been arrested for a DUI, you might be interested in getting a police report, or police reports, to see what the police officer in your DUI case wrote about the incident. This page has information from our Orange County criminal defense attorney on how to get the police report in your DUI case.
Why the police report in your DUI case is important
The police report constitutes almost all of the evidence that the DMV uses in deciding whether or not there is proof enough to find the issues at a DMV hearing true, which would suspend your license. Because the DMV typically decides cases based only on the documents in your case, and in most cases does not hear live testimony, the documents, as written, are used to prove the case at the DMV.
For your court case, the police report is sent directly to the prosecutor’s office, in most cases the Orange County DA’s Office. The police report gives the DA the basic evidence to show whether or not the case can be proven, and to see if any other crimes have been committed. They use the police report to support the decision whether or not to file criminal charges of DUI in court. The police report also identifies the parties involved, and the evidence that exists for the case.
The problem in getting the police report in your DUI case
In discussing how to get the police report in your DUI case, the problem is California’s Penal Code section PC 1054.2. That code section states as follows:
(a)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), no attorney may disclose or permit to be disclosed to a defendant, members of the defendant’s family, or anyone else, the address or telephone number of a victim or witness whose name is disclosed to the attorney pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 1054.1, unless specifically permitted to do so by the court after a hearing and a showing of good cause.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), an attorney may disclose or permit to be disclosed the address or telephone number of a victim or witness to persons employed by the attorney or to persons appointed by the court to assist in the preparation of a defendant’s case if that disclosure is required for that preparation. Persons provided this information by an attorney shall be informed by the attorney that further dissemination of the information, except as provided by this section, is prohibited.
(3) Willful violation of this subdivision by an attorney, persons employed by the attorney, or persons appointed by the court is a misdemeanor.
The translation from legalese is that a person who is a subject, or defendant, in the case, cannot get a copy of the police report unless all the witnesses, or the alleged victim’s name, address, and contact information, is redacted. The purpose of this law is to prevent retaliation against victims or witnesses, or defendants dissuading witnesses to testify at trial or at a hearing.
What if you are representing yourself?
It is never wise to represent yourself. In a DUI case, which involves testing science and legal issues, an Orange County DUI Attorney can help you defend your case. But if you do choose to appear as your own attorney, the law accounts for that special situation, as follows:
(b) If the defendant is acting as his or her own attorney, the court shall endeavor to protect the address and telephone number of a victim or witness by providing for contact only through a private investigator licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs and appointed by the court or by imposing other reasonable restrictions, absent a showing of good cause as determined by the court.
With Orange County DUI cases, where a person is representing themselves in a DUI, the current procedure is to have a public defender redact (blackout or use white out) all witness information, including the police officers, copy the reports, and provide the copied report to the defendant acting as their own attorney. That is one of the ways how to get the police report in your DUI case. But there are others.
How to get the police report in your DUI case – directly from the police agency
As you can see from the above, if you try to get a copy of your police report from the police agency, often they will state they cannot release that to you, citing the above laws. They may say that, as a pending court case, that you need to get any report through your attorney as part of the court case.
However, police records departments are often used to giving out police reports for insurance or investigative purposes, especially in traffic collision cases. Licensing agencies and background investigation services also commonly order police reports. However, access to these records varies greatly from one police agency to another and depends mainly on their procedures and policies for records.
As an Orange County DUI Attorney, I have had my clients tell me that they have had success in going directly to the police records department and obtaining their reports there. Most police agencies charge per page for copying police reports, so there is a charge.
In Orange County, some of the police agencies that have policies releasing police reports are as follows:
Anaheim DUI Police Reports
Obtaining an Anaheim Police report (note the section instructing defendants with a pending crime).
Costa Mesa DUI Police Reports
Obtaining a Costa Mesa Police Report. Note that the records department for Costa Mesa is open 24 hours a day. Their phone number for records and report questions is (714) 754-5373.
Fountain Valley DUI Police Reports
Obtaining a Fountain Valley Police Report (note that you will need to fill out a form).
Tustin DUI Police Reports
Los Angeles Police DUI Police Reports
Obtaining your police reports and alcohol test results through the DMV Office of Driver Safety
With DUI cases, the same police report is copied and sent two places – to the prosecutor’s office, for the filing of charges, and to the DMV, for use in your DMV hearing. How to get the police report in your DUI case from the DMV?
If you request a DMV hearing within the 10-day time limit to request a hearing, you, or your DUI defense attorney, will be sent by mail a full, unedited copy of the police report to be used in defending and preparing for your DMV hearing. That is sent to you at no charge, and it one way how to get the police report in your DUI case for free.
Obtaining your police reports from an online service
The legal research and online records service, Lexis/Nexis, has partnerships with many police stations to scan and search police reports, which are available directly through the service. You can request and pay for access and documents here: