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The DAVID System and The Drivers Privacy Protection Act

In a matter of seconds, they can find out where you live, if you’re married, what your Social Security number is, your drivers license information, and even bank information. They are not computer hackers, but law enforcement officers with access to the DAVID system. The DAVID system is an invaluable tool for law enforcement when it is used properly. However, with little oversight or protection systems, personal private information can be easily accessed for improper purposes. It has been called Facebook for cops and there have been a vast increase of violations, many of which would never be discovered unless a public records request is conducted. Recently, a Broward County Court Clerk employee was caught stealing Social Security numbers from the DAVID system to commit identity theft. Prosecutors in that case stated that there were no red flags to indicate an abuse of the system. In another recent case, a state trooper pulled over a fellow officer for speeding. After the incident, dozens of fellow officers improperly looked up her private information hundreds of times.

Anyone caught abusing the DAVID system can lose access to it or even face criminal charges. However, in most cases the punishment given by law enforcement agencies is tantamount to a slap on the wrist. Fortunately, federal law also allows for a private right of action in the form of monetary damages to help discourage abuse of the DAVID system. The Drivers Privacy Protection Act (“DPPA”) provides protection from the improper disclosure and viewing of drivers’ license records. In the event that personal information in drivers’ license records is viewed for an impermissible purpose, the DPPA provides for liquidated damages in the amount of no less than $2,500.00 per violation.

If you believe that a law enforcement officer improperly looked up your information, you can send your request to DAVIDPublicRecordRequest@flhsmv.gov . When making a request, you should include your name, the tag or driver’s license number as well as a timeframe of the search.
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