Motor Vehicle Registration Records

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Access to motor vehicle registration records held by the Department of Safety, the Department of Revenue, or in the office of the county clerk when acting as an agent of those departments is restricted by both state and federal law. The federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act places restrictions on access to these records.[1] In addition, in 1996, our state legislature adopted the Uniform Motor Vehicle Records Disclosure Act that closely parallels the language of the federal act.[2] Under the provisions of these laws, personal information obtained by those government offices in connection with a motor vehicle record can not be disclosed except for specific purposes to certain authorized individuals or with the consent of the driver.[3]  Personal information is defined to include information that identifies a person, including an individual’s photograph, computerized image, social security number, driver identification number, name, address, telephone number, and medical or disability information.[4] Use of the information is generally allowed for governmental agencies in carrying out their functions.[5] Additionally, the statutes include about a dozen other authorized uses whereby certain private parties have rights to access the records for those specified purposes.[6] If a county clerk is presented with a request for personal information from motor vehicle records from a private citizen or a company, he or she should compare the request to the restrictions and authorizations found in T.C.A. §§ 55-25-103 through 55-25-112 and 18 U.S.C. § 2721 through 18 U.S.C. § 2725 to determine whether the release of such information is lawful. The Tennessee Department of Safety, Division of Title and Registration may be able to provide county clerks with further guidance regarding these records if necessary.

            [1]  18 U.S.C. § 2721 through § 2725.

            [2]  T.C.A. §§ 55-25-101, et seq.

            [3]  T.C.A. §§ 55-25-104 through 55-25-107 and 18 U.S.C.A. § 2721.

            [4]  T.C.A. § 55-25-103(6).

            [5]  18 U.S.C. § 2721(b)(1) and T.C.A. § 55-25-107.

            [6]  18 U.S.C. § 2721 and T.C.A. § 55-25-105 through 107.