|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
May 31, 2000
Ms. Janice Marie Wilson
Dear Ms. Wilson:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 135727.
The Department of Transportation (the "department") received a request for vehicle titles transferred into salvage/junk certificates of title by State Farm Insurance Company during the last six months of 1999.(1) You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.130 of the Government Code, chapter 730 of the Transportation Code, and the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2721-2725. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the submitted representative sample of information.(2)
Section 552.130 of the Open Records Act governs the release of information obtained from motor vehicle records. Section 552.130 provides in relevant part as follows:
(a) Information is excepted from the requirement of Section 552.021 if the information relates to:
* * *
(2) a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state[.]
* * *
(b) Information described by Subsection (a) may be released only if, and in the manner, authorized by Chapter 730, Transportation Code.
The information submitted in your representative sample pertains to motor vehicle titles or registrations issued by an agency of this state. Therefore, under section 552.130, the department may release the requested information only if the release of such information is authorized by chapter 730 of the Transportation Code.
Section 730.004 of the Transportation Code provides:
Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary, including chapter 552, Government Code, except as provided by Sections 730.005 - 730.008, an agency may not disclose personal information about any person obtained by the agency in connection with a motor vehicle record.
Section 730.003 provides that, for purposes of chapter 730 of the Transportation Code:
(1) "Agency" includes any agency of this state, or an authorized agent or contractor of an agency of this state, that compiles or maintains motor vehicle records.
(4) "Motor vehicle record" means a record that pertains to a motor vehicle operator's or driver's license or permit, motor vehicle registration, motor vehicle title, or identification document issued by an agency of this state or a local agency authorized to issue an identification document. The term does not include a record that pertains to a motor carrier.
(6) "Personal information" means information that identifies a person, including an individual's photograph or computerized image, social security number, driver identification number, name, address, but not zip code, telephone number, and medical or disability information. The term does not include information on vehicle accidents, driving or equipment-related violations, or driver's license or registration status.
Transp. Code § 730.003(1), (4), (6).
We find that the information at issue constitutes "personal information" in connection with a "motor vehicle record" held by the department which is an "agency." Therefore, the information falls under section 730.004. Consequently, as prescribed by section 552.130, release of the requested information is controlled by chapter 730 of the Transportation Code. It is not apparent, and you do not assert, that any of the exceptions to confidentiality afforded by chapter 730 apply. See Transp. Code §§ 730.005 - 730.008. The department must withhold the requested information in accordance with Government Code section 552.130 and Transportation Code chapter 730.
If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. § 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.--Austin 1992, no writ).
E. Joanna Fitzgerald
Ref: ID# 135727
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Donna Ressl
1. The initial open records request sought "titles transferred into junk/salvage certificates of title by State Farm Insurance, Allstate Insurance, and Farmers Insurance." This request was subsequently narrowed.
2. In reaching our conclusion here, we assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988), 497 (1988) (where requested documents are numerous and repetitive, governmental body should submit representative sample; but if each record contains substantially different information, all must be submitted). This open records letter does not reach, and therefore does not authorize the withholding of, any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this office.