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Updated: March 13, 2011

The Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)

People frequently ask me why it’s so often difficult to obtain motor vehicle and title information from state motor vehicle agencies for a vehicle they may have once owned. The answer: The federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) of 1994.

The release of state motor vehicle data in the United States is tightly regulated by the DPPA, which was established in reaction to a series of abuses of drivers' personal information held by state government agencies. The 1989 murder of Hollywood actress Rebecca Schaeffer was a prominent example of such abuse. In that case, a private investigator, hired by an obsessed fan, was able to obtain Schaeffer's address through her California motor vehicle record. The fan used her address information to stalk and ultimately kill her.

The DPPA prohibits the release or use by any state DMV (or any officer, employee, or contractor thereof) of personal information about an individual obtained by the department in connection with a motor vehicle record. It sets penalties for violations and makes violators liable on a civil action to the individual to whom the released information pertains.

Under the law, states are required to protect the privacy of personal information contained in an individual's motor vehicle record. This information includes the driver's name, address, phone number, Social Security number, driver identification number, photograph, height, weight, gender, age, certain medical or disability information, and in some states, fingerprints. It does not include information concerning a driver's traffic violations, license status or accidents.

The act contains a number of exceptions; a driver's personal information may be obtained from the department of motor vehicles for any federal, state or local agency use in carrying out its functions; for any state, federal or local proceeding if the proceeding involves a motor vehicle; for automobile and driver safety purposes, such as conducting recall of motor vehicles; and for use in market research activities.

Ironically, personal data is still available to licensed private investigators.

The act also imposes criminal fines for non-compliance and grants individuals a private right of action including actual and punitive damages, as well as attorneys fees.

Permissible Uses of a Driver's Motor Vehicle Record

The DPPA limits the use of a driver's motor vehicle record to certain well-defined purposes. These purposes are defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2721:

* Legitimate government agency functions.
* Use in matters of motor vehicle safety, theft, emissions, product recalls.
* Motor vehicle market research and surveys.
* "Legitimate" business needs in transactions initiated by the individual to verify accuracy of personal information.
* Use in connection with a civil, criminal, administrative or arbitral proceeding.
* Research activities and statistical reports, so long as personal information is not disclosed or used to contact individuals.
* Insurance activities.
* Notice for towed or impounded vehicles.
* Use by licensed investigators or security service.
* Use by private toll transportation facilities.
* In response to requests for individual records if the State has obtained express consent from the individual.
* For bulk marketing distribution if State has obtained express consent from the individual.
* Use by any requestor where the reqestor can show written consent of the individual.
* For any other legitimate State use if it relates to motor vehicle or public safety.

If an individual has not given consent to the release of a motor vehicle record, the DPPA limits sharing of information once it is obtained. Information may only be shared with other approved users only for permitted uses. In addition, records must be kept of each additional disclosure identifying each person or entity that is receiving the disclosure and for what purpose. The disclosure records must be kept for a period of 5 years.

The DPPA, like many other privacy statutes, provides a federal baseline of protections for individuals. The DPPA is only partially preemptive, meaning that except in a few narrow circumstances, state legislatures may pass laws to supplement the protections made by the DPPA.

All states were required to comply with the minimum requirements of the DPPA by September 1997. Many states are more restrictive than the federal rules. Certain states, such as Arkansas and Wyoming, only release personal information to the licensee; a person who has written permission from a licensee; or a traffic court, law enforcement, or governmental agency who has a need for such information to perform their required duties.

The full text of the act is available at the following links:

* 18 U.S.C. § 2721 Text of the Drivers Privacy Protection Act of 1994.
* 18 U.S.C. § 2722 Additional Unlawful Acts.
* 18 U.S.C. § 2723 Penalties.
* 18 U.S.C. § 2724 Civil Action.
* 18 U.S.C. § 2725 Definitions.

Source: The Electronic Privacy Information Center (www.epic.org.)

State Motor Vehicle Departments -

The following are links to state departments of motor vehicles - specifically, to pages which contain information about how to go about locating a former vehicle (i.e. through title or VIN searches), and the policies governing these searches. I will continue to add states to the list as I am able to locate the information, so check back frequently.

May 3, 2009: All links have been updated and are working.

Many of the forms listed below require an Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to view.

Download Adobe Acrobat here

If you have additional information you'd like to add, or your own personal experiences, contact us and we'll add it.

Alabama: Form MVDPPA1
Alaska: Form 851
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado: Form 2539.
Connecticut: Form J23 (Copy Records Request)
Delaware: Personal Information release form
Florida: Records request form (Also, visit this page for more info).
Georgia: Form MV-20.
Hawaii: Note: Hawaii does not have a statewide Department of Motor Vehicles. Vehicle records are managed by each county government
Idaho: Idaho Motor Vehicle Record Request form
Illinois: Secretary of State Information Request info
Indiana: Form 53789 - Request for Vehicle Records
Iowa: Privacy Act Agreement for Request of Motor Vehicle Record(s)
Kansas: Motor Vehicle Records Request form
Kentucky: Motor Vehicle Records Request form
Louisiana
Maryland
Maine: Press release regarding Maine and the DPPA
Massachusetts: Request for Personal Information in RMV Records form
Michigan: Obtaining Michigan Department of State Records
Minnesota: Record Request Form
Mississippi: Contacting the Mississippi Department of Public Safety
Missouri: Vehicle Record request form (Form 4678)
Montana: Form MV210 - Release of Motor Vehicle Records
Nebraska: Application for Copy of Vehicle Record
Nevada: Application for Individual Record Information (IR-002)
New Hampshire: Release of Motor Vehicle Records (Form DSMV505)
New Jersey: Open Public Records Act, Motor Vehicle Services.
New Mexico: Confidential Records Release form
New York: Information about DMV records
North Carolina: Request for Motor Vehicle Information (Form MVR - 605A)
North Dakota: Request for Motor Vehicle Information (Form SFN51269)
Ohio: Record Request (Form BMV 1173). Also, check the current title/registration status of any vehicle in Ohio via the state's Online Title Inquiry here.
Oklahoma: Vehicle Information Request form (Form 769)
Oregon: Request for Vehicle Record form
Pennsylvania: Reuqest for Vehicle Information form (Form DL 135)
Rhode Island: Request for Title Information form
South Carolina: Form 5027A - Request for Vehicle Information
South Dakota: Driver's Privacy and Protection Act form (Form MV-DPPA)
Tennessee: Vehicle Information Request form
Texas: Request For Texas Motor Vehicle Information
Utah: Release of Protected Motor Vehicle Information form (Form 890)
Vermont: Form TA-VG-116 (DPPA Record Request)
Virginia: Virginia releases information about vehicle records *only* to the current owner of a particular vehicle. Click the link to read more about their record release policy.
Washington: Motor Vehicle Record Disclosure Request Application. Also, you may want to try this other form here.
West Virginia: Form DMV-100 (Request for Vehicle Information)
Wisconsin: Form MV-2896 - Vehicle/Driver Record Information Request
Wyoming: Vehicle Record and Privacy Disclosure Release form

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- Additonal Links -

Below you'll find a listing of some of our favorite links. If you'd like to have your link added here, contact us and we'll be glad to add it.

New links added at the bottom of the page (Updated: March 12, 2011).


Dover Drag Strip - Tribute page: Dedicated to the legendary (and now sadly defunct) Dover Drag Strip in Wingdale, NY, former Dover track announcer Dean "Dino" Lawrence has done a fantastic job preserving the memory of what was once one of the Northeast's premier drag strips. Lots of photos of cars that raced at the old strip, videos of old races and plenty more. I never got the chance to experience the strip but heard plenty about it growing up (my dad raced his '57 Thunderbird there a-plenty in the late '60s and early '70s.)

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Torino Cobra: The site for information on the Torino, Ford's other great musclecar. I'm a fan because I own one, but do yourself a favor and check out the site anyway. Always plenty of photos and a great classified section.

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Classic and Exotic Service, Inc.: One of the largest automotive restoration facilities in the Midwest, and the place where I work. Check them out and see for yourself.

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Still Runs: The World's Most Famous Impala - 11330 days and 285,000 miles after it was built, Dave's '72 Chevy Impala still runs! Check it out; photos, audio, video, games, message board and lots more.

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Cars in Barns: If you love old cars, especially musclecars, this site will make you sick. The sight of hundreds of old cars rotting away in the dirt is bad enough; owners who won't sell them because they're "going to restore these cars...someday" (yeah, right) is even worse.

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Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race: Their motto is "Pure Stock is the way to rock," and these guys couldn't be more right. The first event of its kind when it started in 1998, the annual race features stock muscle cars without major modifications racing against each other in a "best of three" format. Held each September at the Mid-Michigan Motorplex in Stanton, Mich.

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F.A.S.T: Factory Appearing Stock Tire: Similar in nature to the Pure Stock Drags, this event is held several times a year at tracks all over the U.S.

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Great Old Cars: Free Classic Car Classifieds, Classic Car Clubs & Event Listings plus VIN Decoding and Classic Car Parts & Services Listings.

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American Muscle Car Association: Founded in 2001, the AMCA is dedicated to musclecars of the '50s, '60s and '70s. The organization also publishes a new musclecar magazine, Muscle Car Motion.

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AMX-perience/Trans-Am Javelin: Dedicated to the two-seater AMX of 1968, 1969 and 1970. Factory literature and photos are used throughout the site.

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Mustang 428 Cobra Jet Registry: The definitive site for information on 1968-1970 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet vehicles. Register your 428CJ with them!

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1970 Mach I Registry: The place for information about the 1970 Mustang Mach I. Contains serial numbers, productions data, copies of original invoices, buildsheets, body tag descriptions and more.

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Blacktieclassics.com: Located in Berlin, NJ (near Philadelphia), this is the place to find a muscle car for sale. They sell, lease and restore classic cars, specializing in Pontiac GTOs. Check them out!

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ChevyWorld.net: Celebrating almost three years online, this site is among the best Chevy-themed sites out there: Tech articles, discussion rooms, featured rides, merchandise, and much more. Visit them and see why!

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Allpar.com: A layman's list of practical auto resources, Allpar.com serves Dodge, Chrysler, Plymouth, DeSoto, and Jeep owners and enthusiasts. Check out their other sites as well: Valiant Varieties and PTCruizer.com.

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Maddmax Muscle Car Art: Muscle car art from the past to the present with over 300 artist signed prints to choose from. Now also featuring custom designed Showboards for all your car show needs.

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Auto Appraisal Group, Inc.: National, certified specialists for insurance matters and prepurchase inspections for classics and collectibles, and diminished value services for late-model claims.

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Arrowhead Radiator Service: Offering sales of automotive, heavy truck, and industrial radiators, and charge air coolers, including technical articles on overheating and radiator failure charts.

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Automotive artwork by Danny L. Whitfield: Danny's artwork includes a wide range of automotive fine art prints, from Aston Martins and Z-28s, to Corvettes, Mustangs and muscle cars. Be the first to own one of these exquisite masterpieces.

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Lesco Engine Machine: Located in San Luis Obispo, Calif., Lesco Engine Maching is a vintage and classic car engine rebuilding outfit specializing in many makes, including Corvette, Cobra, and other vintage racing vehicles.

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Association of American Car Clubs UK: The foremost Site for information on American vehicles and clubs in the United Kingdom. A resource for owners and enthusiasts, which contains a list of clubs, services, classifieds, Motorvatin’ USA magazine articles, news, trade adverts, member autos, membership information, message board, model specific areas and many useful links for sourcing parts.

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OldRide.com: OldRide.com is a classic and antique automotive web site featuring classic cars for sale. Their classified ads include classic cars, street rods, project cars, trucks, motorcycles, sports cars, parts, classic boats and automobilia related items for sale, as well as a wanted ads section.

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The 1970 Dodge Charger Registry : The registry was founded to help document as many 1970 Dodge Chargers, both exisiting and extinct. The registry is free and open to all 1970 Chargers in any condition and features a history page, production numbers, spec pages, option codes, pictures and even a message board.

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Paradise Road Speed and Custom: Paradise Road Speed and Custom is the one stop speed and custom shop for the lover of hot rods, muscle cars, street rods, classic cars, collector cars, and vintage trucks, located in Richmond, Va.

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DUI Foundation: The DUI Foundation works to educate and prevent against the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and other impairing substances. The DUI Foundation website contains a database of knowledge covering health issues, legal information, current news and events updates, information details on support programs, as well as research and many other helpful resources.

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Ford Torino and Mercury Cyclone Registry: The Torino/Cyclone Registry celebrates the best of Ford and Mercury's '68-'79 mid-size intermediates, including Cyclone ('64-'72), Montego and GT ('68-'76), Cougar ('77-'79), Ford Torino/GT/Cobra/Fairlane and Ranchero ('68-'76), LTD II ('77-'79), '70-1/2 Falcon and '64-'67 Mercury 202/Comet/Caliente.

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Thank you for your generosity.

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- The Lost Car Registry grew out of a simple search for one vehicle - a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach I - read all about the story behind this car, and its impact on the development of this site. -
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