Bill would close driver’s records nationwide
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reporters could no longer look at the driving records of any driver licensed by any state if a bill introduced in late October by Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) is enacted.
Moran’s bill would ban release of information about who is licensed to drive vehicles on the public highways, to whom motor vehicles are registered and about violations of traffic laws and similar information on licensed drivers held by a governmental licensing authority.
That information is now routinely available to the public in 34 states, according to a poll by Moran’s office.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) simultaneously introduced a similar bill that would ban the disclosure of “personal information” in DMV records including names, drivers license numbers, addresses, and medical and disability information.
Unlike Moran’s bill, Boxer’s bill excludes from the ban information on vehicular accidents, driving violations and driver’s status. In response to a question at a press conference, she said her bill would not bar release of the drunken driving records of public officials.
Both bills allow disclosure of personal information for “research activities,” but only if individuals are not identified or associated with the released information. Boxer’s bill would bar contact with identified individuals by researchers; Moran’s bill would bar solicitation of them.
In a news release, Boxer justified a need for her bill citing the 1989 slaying of actress Rebecca Schaeffer whose murderer obtained her address through a private investigator who used Department of Motor Vehicle records. She also cited the use of home addresses in DMV records by Operation Rescue antiabortion activists, who she said picket, harass and intimidate doctors and patients at home.
In his news release, Moran said, “Although most people are unaware that this loophole exists, the availability of this information has not gone unnoticed by those who use it to stalk and initiate unsolicited contact with women, doctors, attorneys, police officers, celebrities and other individuals.”
He said “the random access to this type of information poses a threat to every licensed driver in the nation.”
Moran’s bill makes it unlawful to “obtain or use” personal information from motor vehicle records except as the bill provides. Boxer’s bill says no person may “disclose or obtain” the information defined in her bill. Both bills subject persons outside the government who violate the statutes to fines up to $5,000 and up to a year in jail.