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Thursday, June 11, 2015

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles released a statement in response to a call for a ban on the sale of records by the DMV made by Joe Jastrzemski.

Jastrzemski had issued a press release calling the practice of selling motorists information by the DMV "unconscionable," and asking body houses of the state Legislature to make it a priority to ban the practice.

The DMV statement, which came from DMV Spokesman Joe Morrissey, said the department is required by law to make the records available, saying not doing so would "impact traffic safety and commerce." He notes that Social Security numbers are withheld from the records they sell and further notes that county clerks' offices also "sell the same information over the counter under the same rules.”

Jastrzemski, currently Wilson Town supervisor is running for Niagara County Clerk.

The DMV's statement follows below in its entirety:
Like every other state, the DMV makes certain driver information available because we are required to under law. These laws have been on the books for more than 20 years.

The vast majority of driving records are purchased by insurance companies for the purpose of rating drivers and investigating claims, and by employers who are interested in monitoring the driving record of their employees – many of whom hold commercial driver licenses.

If these records were not made available, it would impact traffic safety and commerce.  In fact, withholding these records would put insurance companies at risk for increased fraud.  In addition, companies that provide valuable information to consumers related to the used-car market would not be able to provide consumers with information pertaining to that market, again increasing the risk of fraud.

Anyone who accesses our information must comply with the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits states from selling a driver’s personal information to anyone who does not have what the DPPA considers a permissible use, and applicable state laws that restrict use of the information. We monitor compliance through an audit program.

The majority of records that are sold are “license abstracts,” which include things like license class, convictions, crashes, suspensions and any revocations which are – and always have been – a public record.

License abstracts are only made available when the requestor certifies that they have a permissible use under the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.  They are generally sold to businesses that already have a driver’s personal information – i.e., an employer looking to verify that an employee’s license is valid.

Social security numbers are never sold.

It should be noted that county clerks’ offices sell the same information over the counter under the same rules.”

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