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Rep. Kaiser Reduces Paperwork by Doubling Accident-Reporting Damage Thresholds

Patrolman Dan Kaiser evidently wants fewer calls at work. The Aberdeen policeman, who also happens to be one of District 3's two Republican Representatives, has filed House Bill 1074, which would raise the property damage threshold for reporting automobile accidents. Right now, if you bend fenders, SDCL 32-34-7 requires that you call the police if it looks like you've done a thousand dollars or more in damage to any one person's property or two thousand dollars or more in total damage for all parties involved in the accident. HB 1074 doubles those numbers: two thousand or more per person, four thousand or more per accident.

Think of it this way: pass HB 1074, then spin your truck out on the ice, hit another car, and put a $1,600 crease in your fender, and you don't have to bother Officer Kaiser. If the car you hit also incurs $1,600 in damage, still no call. But if the crash slides you both into Mayor Levsen's yard and you crush his $1,000 decorative mailbox, that's $4,200 in damage for all parties concerned, and you need to call Officer Kaiser.

Doubling the damage threshold is a pretty big jump. The last revision in these reporting thresholds came fifteen years ago, when that year's HB 1203 doubled the damage thresholds to the current amounts. But adjust the $1,000 individual damage limit for each year's inflation rate from 2000 to 2014, and you get $1,421. Rep. Kaiser thus appears to have an eye on reducing paperwork for his Legislative colleagues as well, overshooting the inflation adjustment and thus putting off by several more years the need to revisit this statute with further legislation.

The Kaiser Paperwork Reduction Act does not change the requirement to notify the police immediately of an automobile accident that injures or kills any person. HB 1074 goes before House Judiciary Wednesday morning.


  1. Wayne Pauli 2015.01.27

    Another legislator promoting legislation on a personal interest. How many of his constituents think there is too much accident paperwork? Quit wasting our time and money and do something that helps South Dakotans.

  2. mike from iowa 2015.01.27

    What does non-reporting of an accident do for your insurance rate? Can they raise your premiums w/o official accident reports?

  3. Thomas 2015.01.27

    It means that they don't complete a two page State of SD accident report. Each department handles this in similar ways with minor differences. Some depts will fill out a their own internal short accident report, some will facilitate the exchange of info between the parties, all should issue accident tags to id the damage, and at the very least there will be a report of your call when report the accident. Private property accidents are non reportable as are accidents on public parking lots, college campuses, etc. it's only for highways, roads, streets, and alleys. Reporting accidents gives the state and federal govt info on how to make our roads safer, from road conditions to bad drivers. Even slight damage like a cracked cover of a bumper will run over $1000. Insurance companies can raise your rates anytime you have a claim even if you bang your door into a another parked car. This is a good idea. It won't negate a police response, it only concerns filing and compiling of statistics. Always call law enforcement. At the very least there is a case number made for you to prove to your insurance company that you called and you should always take pictures of the accident scene when it is safe to do so. Not that big of a deal Cory. Relax, it's not a Republican conspiracy to reduce government.

  4. leslie 2015.01.28

    i suspect it too has something to do with considering whether DUI is involved, clearly a public safety matter.

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