The DPPA prevents the Registry of Motor Vehicles from disclosing certain “personal information” regarding individuals. The act defines “personal information” as “an individual’s photograph, social security number, driver identification number, name, address, telephone number, and medical or disability information.” The DPPA does not protect other information such as an individual’s zip code, information regarding accidents, driving violations, and the driver’s license status. Additionally, there are fourteen (14) recognized exceptions to the DPPA these allow governmental and law enforcement agencies access as well as the release of information “in connection with matters of motor vehicle or driver safety and theft,” such as recalls and market research. Records are also accessible for certain business reasons and in connection with civil, criminal, or administrative proceedings. Tow companies, insurance companies, licensed private investigative agencies, employers, toll agencies, and bulk mailers can all access DPPA protected data.
Given all of the exceptions, Massachusetts driving records are not as protected as many people believe. Hardship license applicants should be aware that the Registry provides the Board of Appeal with a complete copy of all hardship license candidates’ driving and criminal records at every Board of Appeal hearing.