The Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act restricts the information
that can be widely released by a state DMV, but does not shut off the
As a rule of thumb, a state DMV will not release personal information
about an individual (telephone number, social security number, etc) in
response to an inquiry from the public (though there are exceptions
even to this restriction, known as 'permissible use' exceptions).
They will, however, provide what is called a "masked abstract" of a
driver's record upn request. This does not include privacy
information, but does include the details of a driver's history,
including convictions, accidents, suspensions, and revocations.
I'm sure the NY Times and other news media have folks stationed near
the DMV records office in Albany who can access records on a walk-in
basis. The public can do this as well, though it's probably easier to
get records by mail (there is no provision for online access).
Take a look at the following DMV publications and forms in order to get started:
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles
Driver's Privacy Protection Act
What information does the DPPA allow the DMV to release?
The DMV can release records that include personal information. The
person who requests the information must have a permissible use.
You can request a driver abstract that does not include personal
information (a masked abstract). A masked abstract contains
information about the driver license class, convictions, accidents,
suspensions, and revocations. It does not contain personal information
about the driver. A masked abstract is only available by mail or at
the DMV Central Office in Albany.
Important Information about Privacy and Access to DMV Records
DMV Records That Are Available
The DMV records that are frequently requested are driver abstracts,
registration abstracts, title abstracts, and accident reports. You can
use form MV-15 (Request for Driver and/or Vehicle Information) to
request many types of DMV records. You can use form MV-198C (Request
for Copy of Accident Report) to request a copy of an accident report
that a motorist or the police filed with the DMV.
The forms mentioned above are available here:
Note that there are small fees associated with the information
requests, depending on what's being asked for.
I trust that's the information you needed. However, if there's
anything else I can do for you, just let me know by posting a Request
for Clarification, and I'm at your service.
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