California Limits License-Records Access

CALIFORNIA'S Gov. George Deukmejian has ordered that the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) restrict public access to motor vehicle and driver's license records. Driver's license and automobile registration records are public information in every state, available to anybody who pays a nominal fee. On July 18, actress Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered by a man who allegedly tracked her down by hiring a detective agency that had located her by accessing her DMV records.

Under the new regulations, businesses that make heavy use of the records will be required to register with the California DMV and provide their reason for accessing the records. A mandatory 10-day waiting period will be imposed for any nonregistered person or business that wishes to access the records; during the waiting period, the person whose records are being requested will be notified of the request. The new regulations go into effect Oct. 1.

``There are a number of legitimate reasons for making this information available,'' the governor said. ``Automobile manufacturers need to get the current addresses to notify car owners about recall programs involving unsafe vehicles. Insurance companies need to obtain an individual's driving record before issuing car insurance. The records are also useful to lawyers, creditors, and other commercial requesters who are trying to locate an individual for proper business reasons. Our goal should be to limit access to this information to requesters who have legitimate business purposes,'' he said.

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