By Spencer Lam
Sometimes, what would seem like or seem like it ought to be a public record may not actually be so. Driving records are one such instance of this. The accessibility to these records varies wildly state-to-state, making it less of a dependable source record and more of an intriguing auxiliary item. In this entry we go over what makes these records unique and where to look for them.
Personal information which is integral to driving records is heavily protected by federal law and by states’ interpretation of that law. The federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 codified protections against disclosing personal information associated with driver’s licenses unless express permission of the subject whose records are being accessed is obtained. Additionally, this information is protected from release under definitions of acceptable use. Acceptable uses as defined by the Act include use by a government agency, use in the normal course of business by a legitimate business or its agents for verification or correction purposes, and for use in connection with any matter before a court or arbitration proceeding. Requirements of written consent or notarization further make the process of obtaining records cumbersome, if not impossible.
The DPPA was introduced in 1992 after abortion doctors and patients were being harassed by people using DMV records to track them. The most prominent of these cases was regarding Midwestern abortion doctor, Susan Wicklund, who had been harassed and stalked by anti-abortion protestors who used DMV records to track her. Since the law was passed in 1994, states all follow the same rules regarding disclosure of personal information, but all have different methods of offering access to driving records.
We’ll examine the Californian record request in detail, as it lies in the middle of the road in terms of information demanded and is comparably easy to complete. In California, the DMV form INF 70 can be used to obtain information on a subject’s driving and vehicle ownership history. This is a records request form which has two main branches of information available – “DL/ID” and “VR/Vessel” records. Only one branch can be chosen per request; therefore, if both types of information are being sought, two separate request forms must be filled out.
The DL/ID, which requires a subject’s name and a date of birth, contains information obtained from an individual’s driver’s license application, reportable abstracts of convictions, and reportable accidents. In order to get the DL/ID information, one can either pay $5 for a computer generated report (the “Automated Record”) which includes all accidents and abstracts that are reportable by law. Or, one may pay $20 per copy of any paper or microfilm document on file with the DMV. Available information includes the driver’s license or ID photo and driver’s license/ID application.
The VR/Vessel form has two options, the first of which contains information on ownership history and other registration information and requires a license plate/CF number or a vehicle/hull identification number. The second option, which allows one to obtain information on all vehicles/vessels owned by a specific individual or business (an “asset search,” up to 8 vehicles), requires the person’s name and the individual or business address. This search also returns owner as of date, ownership history, and all vehicles/vessels owned by an individual or business (up to 8 vehicles).
There are two primary caveats in California (and many other states, as well), which may ultimately undermine the value of these records. They are:
· The Record Subject Receives Notification of the Request: The record subject will be notified via mail that somebody has requested their driving record from the DMV. The subject will be able to see who requested the information, what information was provided to identify them (either their date of birth or driver’s license number), what they requested, and the purpose of the request, as filled out by the requester.
· Form Must be Filled Out With Active State Driver’s License: The INF 70 form must be filled out and signed with an authentic state driver’s license number.
The list below profiles each state’s motor vehicles division and describes their handling of driving records:
Alabama: Vehicle owners may use the Alabama Division of Revenue, Motor Division, Form MV-DPPA1 to request their own motor vehicle registration and title records. Alternatively, personal information may be disclosed if the requester submits the form which is signed by both them and the person whose records they seek. Information may be disclosed upon proof of identity and adequate reasons for usage, which includes (but is not limited to) research activities, so long as the personal information is not published, re-disclosed, or used to contact the individuals and with the express permission of the owner whose information is subject to release. The form is available here.
Alaska: Only allows the individual to retrieve their own driving record, for $10, through the Department of Administration’s Division of Motor Vehicles. Requires license number, full social security number and date of birth to proceed.
Arizona: Only allows the individual to retrieve their own driving record/title and registration motor vehicle records. For the driver license motor vehicle record, an individual needs an AZ DL number, date of birth and the last four digits of their social security number.
Arkansas: Has a subscription-based service called Information Network of Arkansas where users can pay $95/annually to use it. With it, users may – with the driver’s written consent – request titles, registrations and liens as well as traffic violation records. The search for titles, registrations and liens costs $1.50 per record, and traffic violation records cost $10 per insurance record and $13 per commercial.
Colorado: Only permits individuals to request their own record, or a private investigator and attorney to do so with a proper form filled and attached.
Connecticut: For $20, individuals may request license records through the Form J-23 (including driving history with a certified list of violations and sanctions) with proof of identification, consent by the subject, and a valid reason. There does not appear to be a valid reason which falls within our purview as public records researchers. The form must be mailed to the DMV.
Delaware: Only permits individuals to look up their driving record, by way of requiring account creation with a Delaware state ID or Delaware driver’s license.
Georgia: A Driving History Report (MVR) is only available to the individual alone seeking it which must be accessed through a login screen which requires a Georgia driver’s license number. Georgia does not have a DMV. Rather, those services are provided through two departments – the Department of Driver Services (obtain, renew, replace learner’s permits, ID cards and licenses) and the Department of Revenue (vehicle registration, license plates, vehicle taxes).
Hawaii: Only permits individuals to access their Driver History Record by sending a request form to any of Hawaii’s district courts.
Idaho: Similar to California, the Idaho Transportation Department form ITD 3374 allows you to select which kind of records you would like for a fee, so long as you fall under the purview of any of the twelve categories of requestors. There is no sign in required to access the form.
Illinois: To purchase another person’s driving record, one must fill out a request form and mail it to the Illinois Secretary of State, Driver Services Department. The subject’s driver’s license is necessary to complete the form. Interestingly, there is a “None of the Above” option on the form under the applicable persons section. By selecting this option, you simply acknowledge that a letter will be sent to the person whose record is being requested.
Indiana: Only allows access by the individual to their driving record – blocked through a login service requiring a valid driver’s license number and social security number.
Iowa: Accessing another individual’s driving record is blocked behind a login service, which requires users to fill out an account application form, letter of intent, as well as the providing of a copy of a driver’s license. These materials must be mailed to the State of Iowa, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
Kansas: Has an online search function which will return a limited driver’s license record search. It appears that, at least, there is a history of traffic infractions and physical description of the subject. This search can be performed with the subject’s driver’s license number and date of birth. The search costs $13.70 to complete.
Kentucky: Anyone may obtain a limited, three-year driving history, purchasable for $5.50. Users must have a free sign-in account at Kentucky.gov. The record contains traffic conviction information, licenses issued, and administrative entries regarding driving privileges. The limitation of this record is that it does not contain any personally-identifying information such as address, social security number and physical description.
Louisiana: Only allows the individual to access their driving record – individuals must fill out a form with their driver’s license number, class and full date of birth.
Maine: Has an online search function which allows users to search drivers in Maine with either a full date of birth or driver’s license number. You may request either a three or ten-year driver history report. The report includes traffic convictions, reportable accidents, and driver’s license information as well as whether the individual is a habitual offender or not. The three-year search is $7 and the ten-year search is $12.
Maryland: Only allows individuals to access driving records – users must create a free log-in with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. In order to request a driving record, an individual’s date of birth and driver’s license number is required. The charge for a non-certified record is $9 - $12 if you want it certified.
Massachusetts: Has an online search, but requires full SSN, driver’s license number and date of birth for subject. The search costs $8.
Michigan: You may request an individual’s driving history record for $11. A form must be filled out and mailed to the Michigan Department of State. The form requires the subject’s driver license number.
Minnesota: You may request an individual’s driving history record with a form that requires a date of birth, written consent, and driver’s license number for the subject. This form, like many others, requires a permissible use selected in order to be completed. However, unlike some other forms that accept a simple check, this form requires you to provide additional information such as the name of agency requesting the information, telephone numbers, and name of business contacts.
Mississippi: Only allows individuals to request their own driving record. License number, the last four Social Security Number digits, and date of birth are required to perform the search.
Missouri: You can request a driver record without personal information (but would still include information like speeding tickets & violations) by going in-person, mailing or faxing in a written request. There is no form to be sent in for this variant of record. The request must include the name, date of birth and driver license number of the subject, as well as a fee. Alternatively, you may request driver records with personal information in a manner that is more consistent with other states. You must fill out a Form 4681, which requires both the signature of the subject and a notary public stamp.
Montana: Has an online search function for obtaining driver history records, but first requires you to select a permissible reason for accessing records. Then, the subject’s driver’s license and last four of their SSN are required to proceed to the records. The search costs $7.37 to perform.
Nebraska: Has an online search function for obtaining a driver’s record, but requires a driver’s license number or social security number, as well as a date of birth in order to complete the search. The search costs $3 to perform.
Nevada: Only permits individuals to access their own driving records – release of these records to a third party cannot be done without notarized release from the subject.
New Hampshire: You may access other people’s records, but only with their license number, last known address, as well as a notarized signature. The Form DSMV 505 must be filled out and be presented or mailed to the NH Department of Safety. This search costs $15.
New Jersey: The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission encourages people to use their online driver abstract request system – however, this system requires you to be a New Jersey resident, as it has a login function with a special ID number that can only be mailed to you after you provide your ZIP, social security number and driver’s license number. Alternatively, you may mail in the Form DO-21 which requires the subject’s driver’s license number, date of birth, address and a photocopy of your driver’s license.
New Mexico: Has an online search function, but only permits the individual to access their driver history record.
New York: You can get a four-year driving abstract for another individual, but can only access your own lifetime driving record history. Must have permissible use and must provide “as much search information as you know about the record(s) you are requesting.” The form appears to be fillable with just the name, date of birth, and gender. You must also attach a copy of your ID along with payment.
North Carolina: Has an online search function, but only permits the individual to access their driving record.
North Dakota: The SFN-51386 is a form that allows you, for $3, to request a complete driving record of an individual with their signature. This form is relatively sparse compared to other states’ forms in terms of requirements to obtain records. Notably, you do not need the subject’s driver license number or date of birth – just your own and the subject’s signature.
Ohio: Has an online search function that only allows the individual to access their driving record.
Oklahoma: Has an online search function through the Department of Public Safety for obtaining an individual’s driving record. However, you must be one of three things in order to access someone else’s information: a private investigator or representative of one, an insurance company representative, or the employer of the subject whose information you are seeking. Alternatively, you may fill out this records request with the subject’s signed consent, driver’s license and date of birth.
Oregon: Oregon DMV records are highly restricted. A designated party may fill out the Form 735-7122 to request another individual’s driving record with the subject’s driver’s license number and date of birth. Subject’s signature is not required – however, a unique feature of this form is that you must “explain in detail” how the records are intended to be used, and whether or not personal information will be provided to others. Furthermore, you must explain how “you will ensure Oregon DMV records are not accessed by unauthorized parties” and who in your business will have access to the records. Designated parties include attorneys, private investigators, government agencies, etc. Each of these designated parties must submit proof that they are what they claim to be – i.e., state bar number, P.I. license number, and Federal Employer ID numbers.
Pennsylvania: Has an online search system that allows the individual to access their driver history record.
Rhode Island: Has an online search system that allows the individual to access their driver history record.
South Carolina: Has an online search system that allows the individual to access their driver history record. This search function requires the issue date of the driver’s license, in addition to the DL number, social security number, and date of birth.
South Dakota: Only individuals, employers, insurance companies, or government agencies may request driving records. Individuals may request either a three-year or full driving record for themselves. To request records, forms must be filled out, notarized, and mailed with a $5 payment to the Driver Licensing Program.
Tennessee: Only individuals can access their own driving history – the structure of the website encourages people to use an online function to access records. In using the online retrieval function, payment information is required before any other identifying information.
Texas: Has an online search function which only permits the individual to request their own driver record.
Utah: The Utah Driver License Division request form must be notarized and signed by the subject whose records are being requested.
Vermont: Only individuals or organizations (such as insurance companies) may request driver records from the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles.
Virginia: You may request an individual’s records so long as the Form CRD-93 is signed by the subject and their driver’s license and date of birth is provided. The driving record information includes license history and conviction data.
Washington: Encourages people to use an online service for purchasing records (“for fastest service”) – individuals may purchase their own records with it, or businesses may request someone else’s driver record. Alternatively, a Driving Record Request may be mailed in. The form requires the subject’s date of birth and driver’s license number.
Washington, D.C.: Only permits release of driver records to the individual themselves.
West Virginia: You may request a five-year driving record for a subject only if you have their driver’s license, social security number and date of birth. A lifetime driving record is only available to CDL, State Bar or law enforcement agencies. Additionally, a separate driving record release authorization form must be filled out by the subject and sent in with the actual request form.
Wisconsin: Only permits individuals to access their own driving records.
Wyoming: The Wyoming Department of Transportation has a form with three options for the release of driver’s records, but none of them would be applicable for research purposes. The first option is to request your own records. The second option is consent to release your records to a company or another individual. Then, finally, the third option is for agencies requesting driver’s records.
Spencer is a research analyst who has provided VR Research’s political and corporate clients with strategic public records research since 2017.