Pursuant to Section 6454(k) of the CPRA, “[r]ecords, the disclosure of which is exempt or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege” are exempt from the mandatory disclosure provisions of the CPRA. Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(k). Thus, if a record is exempt under the Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2721 et seq., it would be exempt under the CPRA. The DPPA prohibits, with certain exceptions, including consensual disclosures and use for research, a state department of motor vehicles from disclosing personal information about any individual obtained by a department in connection with a motor vehicle record. 18 U.S.C. § 2721(a).
Generally, the California Vehicle Code provides that subject to specific provisions of law, all DMV records are open to public inspection. Cal. Veh. Code § 1808(a). However, Section 1808(e) of the Vehicle Code states that the DMV “shall not make available or disclose personal information about a person unless disclosure is in compliance with the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994.” Cal. Veh. Code § 1808(e). Consequently, at least one court has concluded that disclosure of information from a state DMV record is dependent on the provisions of the DPPA. See Cty. of Los Angeles v. Superior Court, 242 Cal. App. 4th 475, 488, 195 Cal. Rptr. 3d 110 (2015) (holding that vehicle impoundment forms (CHP 180 forms) were exempt from public disclosure under Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(k) “as disclosure of personal information obtained from DMV records, without express consent from the vehicle owner, is prohibited by federal law under the DPPA.”).
The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. § 2721, generally prohibits the disclosure of personal information about individuals obtained by a state’s department of motor vehicles in connection with a motor vehicle record (with exceptions to this prohibition covered in 18 U.S.C. § 2721(b)). In Wemhoff v. District of Columbia, 887 A.2d 1004 (D.C. 2005), the D.C. Court of Appeals held that the DPPA prohibition on disclosure prevented these records from being obtained under D.C. FOIA. Id. at 1013.
The Georgia Department of Revenue is authorized to provide access to information contained in the Georgia Registration and Title Information System only for the purposes mandated by DPPA. Ga. Op. Atty. Gen. No. 08-2 (2008).
No Vermont case has specifically addressed the interplay between the Public Records Act and DPPA but the Public Records Act exempts from public inspection and copying “[r]ecords which by law are designated confidential or by a similar term” and “[r]ecords which by law may only be disclosed to specifically designated persons.” 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(1)-(2). The Vermont Supreme Court has recognized the tension between the exception for confidential materials and the State’s intent to have free and open examination of public records. Norman v. Vt. Office of Court Adm'r, 2004 VT 13, ¶ 4, 844 A.2d 769, 770-71 (Vt. 2004).