- License Plates Types: USA Guide
- Effects of Cyberbullying: Complete Guide for Parents
- What is the DPPA?
- Petty Theft: Definition and Consequences
- What is a Life Sentence?
- How to Find Out if Someone Has a Warrant?
- Marriage License vs Certificate: Everything You Need to Know
- The Ten Most Popular Celebrity Mugshots
- How to Find Out if Someone is Married?
- How to Stop Phone Spoofing?
- How To Avoid Probate
- Dealing with abandoned vehicles in your neighborhood
- How to Find Someone's Cell Phone Number by Their Name
- Who Are the Worst Drivers in America?
- How To Find Unclaimed Money From Deceased Relatives
- What is a Digital License Plate?
- How to Find out if Someone Died?
- Murder vs Manslaughter: The Differences and Definitions
- How to Hire a Private Investigator?
- What Is a Number Neighbor?
- How to Find Out if Someone was Arrested
- How to Find Someone's Birthday?
- What is a Car Title
- How to Obtain a Police Report and Court Records?
- Filing a false police report
- Prison Valley: Look inside Prison Town
- How to Get Custody of a Child Without Going to Court?
- How to Find Someone’s Social Media Profiles?
- What to Do if Your Phone Is Tapped?
- What Is a Deed in Real Estate?
- Where Was The First US Federal Penitentiary Established?
- How to Find Someone's Location Using Their Cell Phone Number?
- What Is a Restricted Call?
- Who is the Most Dangerous Prisoner in the World?
- Poshmark Scams: How to Prevent and Report Them
- How to Find a Missing Person?
- How to Send Money to a Federal Inmate?
- DUI vs DWI: What're The Differences
- How Long After Buying a Car Do You Need to Register it?
- How to Find out Where Someone Lives?
- What Happens If You Get Caught Driving a Car Without Interlock
- Situational Crime Prevention: Theory, Techniques and Examples
- How Can I Find Out Who Called Me for Free?
- Gun Free Zone Statistics and Facts
- Online Threats and Digital Security: Trends, Types and Most Common Examples
- Cold Cases Guide for Police Officers and Investigators
- Court Order: Meaning, Types and Examples
- What Does a Fingerprint Background Report Show?
- How to Check Your Criminal Record?
- What is Tort Law?
- How to Calculate Child Support
- Property Rights: Definition, and Characteristics
- 12 Common Uses of Public Records
- US Antitrust Law
- Virginia Gun Confiscation Law
- How Do You Find Out Who Own a Property?
- Neighborhood Watch Program
- How to Perform a Mugshot Search?
- Crime Mapping
- Safest Colleges in Florida
- Veterans Guide to Cars and Driving
- U.S. Correctional System: Structure, Incarceration and Facts
- License Plate Laws in the US
- How to Locate Inmates and Access Jail Records?
- Email Hacking: Laws, Penalties and Protection
- Romeo and Juliet Laws
- Holiday Safety for Home and Family
- Differences between Criminal and Arrest Records
- Public Records and Property History: What is Public Information and What Isn’t
- How to Look up an Immigration Detainee?
- Famous Prisons in the USA
- How to Find Out Who Owns a Vehicle Using Reverse Lookup Tools
- How to Search for Your Family Tree?
- The Federal Judicial Center
- Mass Incarceration in the USA
- What is COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act)?
- Data Safety After The Capital One Breach
- Scholarships Guide for Students
- Complete Guide to Student Safety
- What Is a Vehicle Identification Number?
- Determining Divorce: 5 Types of Divorce You Must Know
- Sex Offenders: Complete Guide to be Protected
- New Privacy Laws and Public Records
- Motor Vehicle Registration in the US
- Digital Token Age: Security Laws and Regulations
- Copyright Law and Facial Recognition Technology
- What Shows up in a Background Report
- Car Repossession Laws: Dealing with Car Dealers and Auto Fraud
- How to Protect Yourself from Phone Scams
- Human Rights in the Prison
- Business Competition: Laws and Policies
- Hate Crimes: Reasons, Stats and Facts
- Starting a Business and Business Licenses
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Guidance
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Tax Reform Impact and Changes To Know
- Self-Driving Cars: Laws and Regulations
- White-Collar Crime: Statistics and Facts
- Have You Been Arrested? Cases You'll Need a Lawyer
- Getting a driver's license in the US: What to Know
- Car Theft in the US: Prevention and Facts
- Identity Theft Passport Program
- Changing your Name after Marriage: What You Need to Know
- Finding the Perfect Roommate: Dos and Donts
- What if You Get Into a Car Accident? A Complete Checklist
- Property Crimes: How to Burglar Proof Your Home
- Consumer Laws in the US: What Do They Mean for a Customer and a Business Owner
- Child Trafficking: The Scope, Understanding, and Prevention
- Business Assets: A Guide to the Financial Health of your Business
- Guide To The College Application: How, When and Where to Apply
- Which States Have “Stand Your Ground” Laws?
- Adolescent Depression Symptoms and Causes
- Things to Know About the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory System
- Inheritance in the US: With & Without a Will
- Online Dating Safety Guide for Men and Women
- Sexual Abuse in the U.S.: Laws and Statistics
- Supporting Children After Divorce: Child Custody Options
- Halloween Horrors Come to Life: Holidays Crimes in the U.S.
- Charity Scams in the U.S.: Be Aware and Protected
- Webcam Hacking & Spying in the US
- Sex Offender Search
- Freedom of Religion in the U.S.
- Senior Financial Scams: How are the Elderly Targeted and How to Avoid It
- Catcalling: Is it illegal? How to Deal With It
- A Complete Guide To Insurance Fraud: Common Types and Prevention
- Sextortion: What to Do if You Became a Victim of Blackmailing
- Concealed Carry: How to Protect Yourself on Campus
- Debt Collection Laws | Fair Debt Collection Act: What You Need To Know
- How Much Is My House Worth? Ultimate Guide to Home Buying and Selling
- What are the Traits of a Sociopath?
- Do You Know Who Your Neighbors Are?
- Learn How to Find Your Birth Parents
- The Importance of Public Records in Law
- Do You Know What's the Difference Between Jail and Prison?
- Homeowner’s Insurance, Is it a Public Record?
- The Disturbing Facts of Gun Violence in America
- How to Use Public Records in Marketing
- Best & Worst Cities for Driving
- LGBT Bullying
- What You Need to Know When Buying or Selling a Used Car?
- School Safety and Security Standards
- Guide to Making Your DMV Experience Hassle Free
- How to Prepare For an Active Shooter Incident
- How to Report a Crime?
- How to Protect Yourself Against Cyber Attacks
- 50 Things to Know When Filing for Divorce
- What to Do When You Are Stopped By the Police
- Tips for Back-to-School Safety and Security
- Guide to Filing for Bankruptcy
- How to Appeal the Court's Decision
- A User's Guide to Warrants
- How to Fight a Traffic Ticket?
- Keeping Your Neighborhood Safe For Your Family
- A Parent's Guide to Keeping Your Child Drug-Free
What is the DPPA?
Sometimes the name of the law is purposely written so that it appears to be something it is not. The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act doesn’t actually protect the privacy of drivers. This federal law, part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, allows states to sell information from driver’s licenses, including personal data that can be used against an individual.
Aside from voluntary driver’s license information the harvesting and sale of data from computer and connected device users blossomed from $7.6 billion to $64 billion worldwide in the 10-year period of 2011-2021. Tracking cookies have become less effective recently as internet browsers were designed to block them, but more mobile apps have sprung up, allowing location data to be collected along with personal information and even biometrics that reveal information about an individual’s health.
What is DPPA Permissible?
The law was written to keep driver’s license information out of the hands of private individuals after an actress named Rebecca Shaeffer was killed by a stalker, but in fact it allows the information to be sold to many others, such as:
- insurance companies
- tow companies
- private investigators and bounty hunters
- credit reporting agencies
- marketing companies
- banks and
States may set their own standards or exploit loopholes in the law for profiting off driver’s license data; dozens sell the information in bulk for millions of dollars in profit. States identified by journalists as selling such information included New Jersey, Delaware, California, Virginia, Florida, Indiana, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and South Carolina. Arizona was identified as selling driver’s photos and Social Security numbers in violation of the law’s intent and application.
Sharing of driver’s license information, including driving records, is not uncommon among states. A Driver License Compact was established among 45 states in order to allow access to all license information for the purposes of law enforcement. The only states that are not included are Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia, and Wisconsin. However, you can perform a license plate owner lookup through RecordsFinder online tools.
What Information Does the DPPA Restrict?
Home addresses are frequently sold as part of driver’s license information that states market to third parties. States do not release:
- information about disabilities, or
- Social Security numbers (some states use the numbers as identification for drivers)
unless it’s officially approved under the law and for specifically allowed uses. However, states have been found in violation of these rules and some approved users have re-sold information to others who do not qualify for legal access. All other information, including birth dates, phone numbers, and email addresses have all ended up in the hands of third-party companies allowed to purchase driver’s license information under DPPA, according to published reports.
What States Do Not Share DMV Information?
Tennessee is one state that allows residents to opt-out of having their personal information shared, however, there are several exceptions to that exclusion. A journalist discovered that the state may still sell individual information to five companies despite the appearance of such a sale is expressly prohibited.
Each state is entitled to create its own regulations that augment the DPPA, resulting in a patchwork of laws and loopholes. The Supreme Court held in 2000 that the DPPA is an appropriate use of federal legislation.
History of the DPPA
An actress, Rebecca Shaeffer was starring in the sitcom My Sister Sam in 1993 when a stalker used a driver’s license information to track her to her home and commit murder. Others had used the information of abortion providers to harass doctors and clinicians at their homes. A burglary ring in Iowa wrote down the license plate numbers of expensive cars then purchased the information about their owners in order to rob them. By 1994 when violent crime was rampant, legislators decided to close one source of personal information: driver’s records.
In 2000 the act was supposed to be strengthened with the addition of the Shelby Act, which expressly prohibits releasing personal information without the specific consent of the individual involved.
Circumstances When the DMV Can Release Records
Privacy concerns of victim advocates are leading the complaints against the DPPA and its many loopholes. They point out that private investigators may access the records for as little as one penny apiece, then use the information against the individual in an investigation (which some claim violates the Constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination). Some states don’t require private investigators to be licensed or qualified in any way, raising concerns about misuse of the personal information available through DPPA.
Mississippi, Idaho, Alaska, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wyoming do not require licenses for private investigators. Without a licensing standard, driver’s information can be released to felons and others who may misuse it. In particular victims of domestic violence and witnesses to crimes may be at risk.
Insurance companies, attorneys, and statistical studies are all allowed access to driver’s license information under certain conditions. For instance, employers may only use the information to confirm data provided by the individual, and attorneys may only use the data in their official capacities.
Penalties for Violating the DPPA
States do periodic audits of the lists of companies and individuals authorized to access DMV records under DPPA. While the charge for misusing such records is generally a misdemeanor it may carry a $5,000 fine, according to the Department of Justice. More serious charges may result if the record is used to commit a crime.
In 2020 the data broker Lexis-Nexis was fined $5 million for reselling driver’s license information it had obtained legally for use by companies that are not authorized to receive the information.