By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Accessing Indian River County crash reports no longer mean waiting in an office lobby for paper copies, now the public records will be available online.
In late January, the Indian River County Sheriff's Office began making the accident reports available on their official website, a move that is expected to increase department efficiency and improve the turn-around time for members of the public to receive their documents.
"Being involved in a crash, tending possible injuries and dealing with the paperwork that inevitably ensues can be stressful, and one way the sheriff's office can help with that is by bringing public documents as close as a click of a button," said Sgt. Thomas Raulen, public information officer for the Indian River County Sheriff's Office. "It will be easier on the public to have access to public information and will be easier for records management because they have been going and getting all of that information. It will cut down on some workloads and give extra time to devote to other duties."
State law restricts the access of crash report information to designated individuals and entities for 60 days before it becomes public record, a press release said.
In order to retrieve a report, a person must have been a party in the crash, a legal representative of a party in the crash, and immediate relative or a licensed insurance agent of the involved party or a representative of a designated victim services program, the release said.
Sgt. Raulen said in order to search for a report in the database, an individual must have an agency case number, the date of the accident and the last name of a driver, passenger or witness.
The records are kept in a .pdf form and can be downloaded to a computer or printed out, Sgt. Raulen said.
The reports should become available online three business days after the accident. Members of the media will also have access to the reports prior to the 60-day confidentiality law.
"The public are still permitted to go to the sheriff's office to obtain a copy of the accident reports, if desired," Sgt. Raulen said.
For more information about the Indian River County Sheriff's Office, visit www.ircsheriff.org or www.facebook.com/ircsheriff.