Search for DMV information online
February 3, 2004 7:29 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible in this interweb thingie to do a search on DMV information? I know there's a trend with certain bars where they will scan the barcode on your driver's license, and bring up your photo/DOB/etc. to prevent underage obviously the information is considered public. I'm thinking specifically of a query using either driver's license number or your vehicle tag number.
posted by luser to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Try this site.
posted by rushmc at 8:29 AM on February 3, 2004

The information is encoded in the barcode, no? So, there is no database querying. It is only "public" if you give them your ID.
posted by sad_otter at 9:06 AM on February 3, 2004

Yeah, it's my understanding that the DMV database is a very tough one to get access to. I've worked for the state of MA for a while, and a couple of times I found potentially great uses for it in my job but have always been denied access to even just parts of it.
posted by soplerfo at 9:49 AM on February 3, 2004

The amount of information made available to the public varies from state to state. However, federal law prohibits the release of most information unless you have a very good reason.

From the FTC:
State departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) maintain a lot of personal information about you. (Just look at your driver’s license, for example.) The Drivers Protection Act gives you privacy rights with regard to information maintained by DMVs. The law lists the ways this information can be used — a DMV may distribute personal information for things like law enforcement, driver safety, insurance underwriting, etc.

A recent amendment to the law now prohibits a DMV from distributing your personal information for other types of uses, including for direct marketing, unless you give them permission.
Specific allowable use according to the federal code is detailed here.
posted by cedar at 10:17 AM on February 3, 2004

Just to reiterate (since I know some bouncers), there's no querying to a central database. Of course I've never seen barcode scanners, everyone around here uses magstrip scanners. Magstrips are harder to fake since they take special hardware and not software.

Even at that, most bars dont't scan but take pictures of the ids in those little id things. They then record this to videotape for their protection from, whatever. I'm glad I opted out of using my SS for my DL number. I can never get answers to when the videotapes of my id are thrown away, etc.

And on an even different note about underage drinkers and fake ids... is it just me or are fakes pretty much gone? I have friends who go to Big 12 schools and live really close to one (KU) and apparently since 9/11 the feds have really cranked down on fakes to where there's absolutely none. I find it interesting that no media outlet has picked up on this. I wouldn't consider getting rid of fake ids at college a great step in the war on terrorism, but apparently they've been really effective with it.
posted by geoff. at 1:20 PM on February 3, 2004

geoff: I tend bar from time to time and have for many years. I agree, I'm not seeing anywhere near the level of fake id's I used to.

I think this goes back to before 9/11, most states have switched to license formats that are much harder to replicate than the older ones and enforcement is much more stringent. For starters, state law now says that we can *only* accept a dirivers license or state issued non-driver id for proof of age. No more college ids, military ids or out of state ids.

Secondly, the liability laws have changed. I serve a minor and I am personally liable, this tends to make me err on the side of caution and be less 'flexible' than I would be if the burden was on my employer.

Drunk driving enforcement has also been a factor. Most of these kids get caught when they are pulled over after a night in the club and the word is out (in this area at least) that if you drive drunk you are going to jail. Hence, the underage kids aren't going out as much and are partying at home.

Now if we could only get the adults to think the same way.
posted by cedar at 2:34 PM on February 3, 2004

Down here in Athens (UGA) fakes are as rampant and crappy as always. Every once in a while, a few bars will get busted and all the bars will bust ass for a few weeks and then go back to allowing people with paper IDs in. As the motto goes, "UGA: a drinking town with a football problem"
posted by jmd82 at 2:51 PM on February 3, 2004

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