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Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)

In order to have access to personal information on motor vehicle records, you must be one of the eligible agencies (see below) and you will need to sign and return the DPPA Agreement in addition to your subscriber application.

In 1994, Congress enacted the Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) to protect the personal information contained on an individual's motor vehicle records. Personal information is information that identifies an individual, such as a name, address, telephone number, medical or disability information, photograph or digital image, and license or social security number. Information relating to motor vehicle accidents, driving violations, or a driver's license or motor vehicle registration status is deemed public information under the federal law. A motor vehicle record includes a driver's license, permit, motor vehicle title and registration and identification card.

In September 1997, the Maine Department of the Secretary of State adopted rules that conformed with the requirements of the federal law. In particular, Maine motorists could request that their personal information not be released to sales and marketing organizations and the general public by completing an 'opt-out' form. By completing the form, an individual's personal information could not be released unless in connection with one of the enumerated exceptions under the law.

The DPPA does allow for the release of personal information from motor vehicle records if used in connection with vehicle safety, vehicle theft or emissions and for market research, product recalls and court proceedings. Those agencies with access to personal information for these purposes are:

  • law enforcement agencies
  • insurance companies
  • motor vehicle dealers
  • businesses and employers to verify personal information for employment
  • towing companies to notify owners of towed vehicles
  • private detective and security agencies

During the 1999 session Congress amended the federal DPPA. Under this amendment, states cannot release personal information on motor vehicle records to sales and marketing organizations and the general public, unless an individual specifically agrees to the release by completing an 'opt-in' form. In this manner, an individual's personal information is automatically protected from release to sales and marketing organizations and the general public without having to take any action. The exceptions from 1997 listed above were not changed under this amendment and are still in effect.

Congress in its 1999 amendment did identify specific personal information it deemed sensitive personal information and provided additional protections under the exceptions. Sensitive personal information includes photographs, digital images, social security numbers, and medical and disability information. This information may only be released in specific circumstances to government agencies, courts, and law enforcement agencies; to insurance companies; to commercial vehicle employers; and for legal proceedings.

To comply with the recent amendment to the DPPA, the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles has amended its rules under the Administrative Procedures Act, Department of the Secretary of State, 29 250A, Chapter 10 (MS Word), effective June 1, 2000.