2019 Law To Protect DMV Records May Not Be Working


In 2018, then State Senator Ricardo Lara authored a bill, SB 244, that was signed into law. The bill protected documents submitted to get a driver’s license or state identification card from disclosure to any third party, including ICE or CPB, without a subpoena, court order or a written certification describing the specific circumstances of a health or safety emergency and why there wasn’t time to get a court order.

The law was particularly important because, 5 years earlier, California had implemented AB 60, which authorized the State to issue drivers licenses and ID cards to undocumented residents.

A story from reporter Maya Skrishnan with the Voice of San Diego, later picked up the San Diego NBC affiliate, chronicled several stories of undocumented people who had not committed any non-immigration-related crimes being picked up for deportation by ICE officials who had possession of their drivers licenses or driver license photos.

DMV officials confirmed that even after the passage of SB-244, agencies like ICE and CBP have access to DMV data via the CLETS database (California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System) and that there was no mechanism in place to vet whether each use of the database, without a subpoena or court order, was a health and safety emergency that did not leave enough time to obtain a court order.

Oakland Privacy wrote a letter asking why SB-244, as we interpret the bill’s language, was not yet being enforced, and requested a moratorium on third party access to DMV data via CLETS absent a subpoena or court order, until the necessary mechanisms are created.



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