Office of the ATTORNEY GENERAL
December 11, 2002
Ms. Lillian Guillen Graham
Dear Ms. Graham:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID#173575.
The Mesquite Police Department (the "department") received a request for the call sheet pertaining to case number 02-107245. The requestor provided the name of a person involved in the accident, the date of the accident, and the location of the accident. The department claims that portions of the responsive information are excepted from disclosure under section 552.130 of the Government Code and sections 771.061 and 772.118 of the Health and Safety Code and asks whether the remainder may be released under section 550.065 of the Transportation Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 550.065(b) of the Transportation Code states that, except as provided by subsection (c), accident reports are privileged and confidential. Section 550.065(c)(4) provides for the release of accident reports to a person who provides two of the following three pieces of information: (1) date of the accident; (2) name of any person involved in the accident; and (3) specific location of the accident. See Transp. Code § 550.065(c)(4). In the situation at hand, although the requestor has provided the department with all necessary pieces of information, we note that the responsive document is not an accident report form completed pursuant to chapter 550 of the Transportation Code. See Transp. Code § 550.064 (officer's accident report). Thus, section 550.065(c)(4) of the Transportation Code is inapplicable to the call sheet submitted by the department.
We now turn to your argument that the information you marked is confidential under section 552.130 of the Government Code. Section 552.130 provides in relevant part:
(a) Information is excepted from the requirement of Section 552.021 if the information relates to:
(1) a motor vehicle operator's or driver's license or permit issued by an agency of this state; [or]
(2) a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state[.]
Thus, pursuant to section 552.130, the department must withhold the vehicle identification numbers, license plate numbers, and license plate expiration dates contained in the submitted information. The rest of the information you marked is not protected under section 552.130.
You also contend that portions of the information submitted are confidential under chapter 772 of the Health and Safety Code and must therefore be withheld under section 552.101. In Open Records Decision No. 649 (1996), which interpreted section 772.318 of the Health and Safety Code, we examined several confidentiality provisions in chapter 772 of the Health and Safety Code. You state that the city is part of an emergency 9-1-1 district established in accordance with section 772.118 of the Health and Safety Code. Section 772.118 makes confidential the originating telephone numbers and addresses of 9-1-1 callers furnished by a service supplier. See Open Records Decision No. 649 (1996). Section 772.118 applies to emergency communication districts for counties with a population over two million. Thus, because the originating telephone numbers in the call sheet were provided by a service supplier to an emergency communication district subject to section 772.118, the telephone numbers are protected from public disclosure under section 552.101 as information deemed confidential by statute.
In summary, the department must withhold the vehicle identification numbers, license plate numbers, and license plate expiration dates under section 552.130, as well as the originating telephone numbers in the call sheet pursuant to section 552.101 in conjunction with section 772.118 of the Health and Safety Code.
This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.
This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code § 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. § 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. § 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. § 552.321(a).
If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. § 552.3215(e).
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).
Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to Hadassah Schloss at the Texas Building and Procurement Commission at 512/475-2497.
If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. We note that a third party may challenge this ruling by filing suit seeking to withhold information from a requestor. Gov't Code § 552.325. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.
Heather Pendleton Ross
c: Ms. Theresa Fitzgerald
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US