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Disclosure of Law Enforcement Traffic Accident and Vehicle Records

This page discusses the disclosure of traffic accident and vehicle records in the possession of police and sheriff departments in Washington State.

It is part of MRSC's Law Enforcement Records Tool Kit, created in partnership with the State Auditor's Center for Government Innovation.

Always consult with your legal counsel if you are unsure whether a record or certain information within the record is exempt or prohibited from disclosure.

Traffic Accident Reports

Traffic accident reports prepared by law enforcement are not exempt and are subject to disclosure. See Guillen v. Pierce County (2001) and Gendler v. Batiste (2012).

However, traffic accident reports compiled and collected by an agency in connection with 23 U.S.C. § 152 for evaluation of dangerous roads are exempt from disclosure under 23 U.S.C. § 407.

Traffic Safety Cameras

Photographs and electronic images from automated traffic safety cameras (such as red light cameras or school zone speed cameras) are prohibited from release to the public under RCW 46.63.170(1)(i).

Department of Licensing Records

Releasing an abstract of an individual's driving record is prohibited by RCW 46.52.130, unless released to the individual named in the abstract or other specified entities pursuant to a contract with the Department of Licensing under RCW 46.22.010. Entities authorized to obtain an abstract shall not further release the abstract to a third party except to those third parties listed in RCW 46.52.130(4).

Disclosure of the names and addresses of individual vehicle owners is prohibited in most circumstances by RCW 46.12.635, although there are a number of exceptions.

Disclosure of driver’s license numbers obtained from DOL is prohibited under RCW 46.52.120; see also RCW 42.56.230(5) and 18 U.S.C. § 2721(a)(2) (if retrieved from a database).

Last Modified: December 30, 2022