Section 32-10-7

Written reports of accidents; release of information.

(a) Every law enforcement officer who in the regular course of duty investigates a motor vehicle accident, either at the time of and at the scene of the accident or thereafter by interviewing participants or witnesses, shall, within 24 hours after completing such investigation, forward the necessary completed written report or copy thereof of such accident to the director on the uniform accident report form supplied by the director. Local police departments, and their contracted agents, may retain copies of the written reports.

(b) Accident reports prepared pursuant to this section shall be made available pursuant to Section 32-2-8, to a news-gathering organization solely for the purpose of publishing or broadcasting the news. The news-gathering organization shall not use or distribute the report, or knowingly allow its use or distribution, for a commercial purpose other than the news-gathering organization's publication or broadcasting of the information in the report. A newspaper, periodical, or radio or television station shall not be held to have used or knowingly allowed the use of the report for a commercial purpose merely because of its publication or broadcast. The news-gathering organization shall not distribute the report or any of the contents of the report, including personal information contained in the report, to any third party for any other purpose. For 30 days following the accident, the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency shall limit any personal identifying information contained in any accident report released pursuant to this subsection to the name and age of the person involved. The complete report shall be made available after that date, excluding any juvenile information or personal information as defined by 18 U.S.C. §2725. Except as provided above and in subsection (c), disclosure of accident reports shall be made only under the following circumstances:

(1) When the identity of a person involved in an accident is not otherwise known or when he or she denies his or her presence at an accident.

(2) When disclosure is directed by a properly executed subpoena or court order.

(3) When requested by any of the following persons:

a. A person involved in the accident made the basis of the accident report, including, but not limited to, drivers of and passengers in the automobiles and pedestrians involved in the accident that is the subject of the report.

b. A parent or guardian of a minor who is a person involved in the accident made the basis of the accident report.

c. A personal representative, executor, or other legal representative of the estate of a deceased person who was involved in the accident made the basis of the accident report. Where no personal representative has been appointed by a probate court of competent jurisdiction regarding the probate or administration of the estate of a decedent, any heir of the decedent shall be authorized to receive an accident report. The authority of the heir to act on behalf of the decedent shall terminate upon the appointment of a personal representative of the estate of the decedent. The Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency or local law enforcement agency may rely upon the affidavit of the heir stating that he or she meets the requirements of this section and that a personal representative has not been appointed by a probate court with respect to the estate of the decedent. For purposes of this section, heir means a person who is entitled to a distribution from the estate of an intestate decedent or a person who would be entitled to a distribution from the estate of a testate decedent if that decedent had died intestate.

d. An insurer or its written designee of a person involved in the accident made the basis of the accident report, if the purpose of the request is for insurance business purposes.

e. An attorney of a person involved in the accident made the basis of the accident report, or an employee of the attorney. The attorney or employee of the attorney shall provide written signed consent by the represented person to request the report.

f. A governmental entity responsible for either maintenance, repair, and oversight of the public road or bridge on which the accident occurred or for law enforcement investigations.

g. An owner or lienholder of an automobile in the accident that is the subject of the report.

(c) The Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency, as a matter of public safety, may contract with an outside entity and release vehicle damage data extracted from accident reports to such an entity for the purpose of providing the public a means of determining a vehicle's accident history. The department may contract with a third party to provide electronic access to reports for persons and entities who are entitled to such reports under subsection (b).

(d) No disclosure is required of any information prohibited by 18 U.S.C. §2721.

(Acts 1943, No. 558, p. 548, §7; Acts 1951, No. 128, p. 355; Acts 1969, No. 272, p. 603; Act 2018-570, §1.)