Sharing your information

Does DMV sell driver license and vehicle information to others?

Yes.  DMV makes driver license and vehicle registration information available for a fee using three methods: contract sales, pay-per-search and over-the-counter.

Anyone who accesses DMV information must comply with the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA).  The DPPA was enacted by Congress after a careful debate about why states should be allowed to share DMV data.  The DPPA prohibits states from disclosing a driver’s personal information to anyone who does not have what the DPPA considers a permissible use.

The DPPA defines “personal information” as an individual’s photograph, social security number, driver identification number, name, address, telephone number and medical information. Information on crashes, driving violations, and driver's status is not considered personal information.

Social security numbers are never sold.  

 

1. Contract Sales
In accordance with the federal DPPA and NYS law, DMV sells registration and vehicle data through an open procurement process every two years.  The successful bidders cannot use DMV information for any purposes other than those in connection with the issuance of a manufacturer’s warranty, safety recall or similar notices – important things that keep the public safe.  The data can be used for statistical compilations and analysis, which do not contain any personal, identifying information.

The DMV does not permit successful bidders to use the data for surveys, marketing, or solicitations. 

DMV collects approximately $2.2 million per year from contract sales.

2. Pay-Per-Search
To access DMV data for legitimate DPPA purposes DMV offers a pay-per-search service. In accordance with NYS law, anyone requesting access using this method must apply to DMV and sign an agreement identifying their permissible use under the DPPA.  Upon verification and approval of their application, a search account is established for the requestor.  The majority of search account holders are insurance companies, who must rate and monitor drivers, and investigate claims, and employers who are required to monitor their employees’ driving records.  Each search costs $7 and is logged by DMV.  Search account holders must have a DPPA permissible use for every search performed, and DMV monitors their compliance through an audit program.

DMV collects approximately $58 million per year from pay-per-search sales.  

3. Over-the-counter
Anyone can visit a State or County DMV office to purchase a driver license record – as long as the requestor provides sufficient and specific information that identifies one and only one record, and provides a DPPA permissible use.  Each over-the-counter search is $10.

DMV collects approximately $3.0 million per year from over-the-counter sales.

 

The benefits of sharing DMV information

The DMV information shared with bus companies, employers, insurance companies, researchers, and motor vehicle manufacturers, through each of the three sharing methods, makes our lives safer and more convenient.  If this information were not made available traffic safety and commerce would be negatively impacted.  A few examples of how DMV’s information sharing programs benefit all of us are provided below.

School Bus Drivers
School districts and private school bus companies are required to know about their drivers’ driving history before they hire them to transport children and other passengers.  Access to DMV information enables school bus companies to make informed decisions about whom to hire.  Once hired, DMV requires bus operators to conduct regular searches of their drivers’ records to confirm nothing negative happens during their employment that would impact their ability to safely continue to drive school buses.

Hazardous Materials Drivers
This same scenario applies to businesses transporting hazardous materials.  All of us want to know the driver of a vehicle hauling dangerous materials is qualified to drive, properly trained, and possesses a valid Commercial Driver License (CDL).  NYS laws require hazardous material companies to only hire and employ drivers who are qualified and have valid licenses.  Employers must regularly obtain their employees’ license records from DMV.


Insurance Companies

When you are shopping for automobile insurance on-line, you expect a rate quote within minutes.  Insurance companies are able to provide this convenient service because they have direct pay-per-search access to DMV information.  They check your driving history to issue an immediate rate quote.  If companies could not conduct these searches, insurance companies would require you to purchase your driver record and send it to them before issuing you a quote.  This practice would make it more difficult for customers to shop for affordable rates, and could increase the potential for fraudulently altered or unreliable driver records.


Motor Vehicle Manufacturers

Purchasing a used car does not automatically register you as an owner of that vehicle with the manufacturer.  Manufacturers rely on DMV’s contract sales program to find and notify current owners of vehicles affected by safety recalls.  Recalls do not only jeopardize the safety of the owner/operator of the affected vehicle, they could also affect the safety of every other person sharing the road with that potentially unsafe vehicle. 


These are just a few examples of how DMV’s information sharing programs are critical to improving public safety and making everyone’s life more convenient.