Monday, September 23, 2002
DMV Not Required to Give Motorists’ Addresses to Collection Firm Lawyer, Court of Appeal Rules
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Department of Motor Vehicles properly declined to give residence addresses of licensees to an attorney for use in tracking down debtors who may be sued in small claims court, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled Friday.
The panel overturned an order that DMV issue a “commercial requester” code to Aaron Feldman, a Walnut Creek lawyer who represents Regional Parking, Inc. A requester code permits the person or entity to which it is issued to obtain residence address information, which has generally been confidential since the passage of DMV privacy legislation in 1989.
Regional Parking, which leases parking lots in the San Francisco Bay Area, assists other parking lot operators in collecting fees from motorists who park in their lots without authorization and told the DMV and the trial court it needs a requestor code in order to franchise its business.
The company used to obtain the addresses through Ticket Track, whose services it dispensed with because it was unhappy with its performance.
A different Third District panel ruled in April of this year that Ticket Track’s attorney was entitled to a requester code under Vehicle Code Sec. 1808.22(c), which allows release of information “to an attorney when the attorney states, under penalty of perjury, that the motor vehicle or vessel registered owner or driver residential address information is necessary in order to represent his or her client in a criminal or civil action which directly involves the use of the motor vehicle or vessel that is pending, is to be filed, or is being investigated.”
But Justice Fred Morrison said in Friday’s opinion that “a proposal to obtain numerous confidential residence addresses to collect parking fees does not meet the requirement of section 1808.22(c) that the information is necessary to represent a client in an actual or potential civil or criminal action.”
To apply the statute to a plan to allow “blanket” requests for information, even though Feldman acknowledged that only a relatively small number of motorists with multiple violations would actually be sued, would be contrary to the language of the law and to the Legislature’s intent to create only a narrow exception to residence address confidentiality, the justice said.
The case is Regional Parking, Inc. v. Department of Motor Vehicles, C038408
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company