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Data-sharing: frequently asked questions

What are data services?

DOL performs data services when we produce a customized data set in response to a request for data. These files may include personal information. We provide data to qualified recipients through:

  • A one-time release of a data file.
  • A recurring release of the data set (e.g. each week we send a data file).
  • Ongoing service: a user logs into DOL’s system and places requests to look up records.

What types of data services does DOL provide?

We provide data services for authorized recipients. For example:

  • Employers needing driving records for people applying for driving positions.
  • Towing, tolling, and parking enforcement, using vehicle data.
  • Research, such as an obesity study.

What types of data does DOL share?

We have many types of data:

  • Public
  • Sensitive
  • Confidential
    • This includes personal information, meaning it could identify an individual.

We share all types of information only when the recipient:

  • Can legally receive the information.
  • and
  • Has a lawful reason for using it.

What is "personal information?"

Washington laws define “personally identifiable information” (PII) as information that identifies an individual. This includes:

  • Name
  • Address (except 5-digit Zip Code)
  • Birth date
  • Social Security Number
  • Photograph
  • Driver license or ID number
  • Telephone number
  • Medical information

We don't count some basic information as PII:

  • Vehicle accidents
  • Driving violations
  • Whether a person has a driver license

Those things we treat as public.

We also treat basic information about professional licenses as public. This is so you can tell whether the professional you’re thinking of hiring can legally do the job.

Does DOL sell or share information about me or my car?

Yes, with caution. State and federal laws allow us to provide data about drivers, cars, and professions, with restrictions. Only certain people and companies can receive data.

Any time we sell or share data, we only share what the law allows. We try to share the least information possible for the recipient to suit their needs. For example, cities often want to know where the vehicles in their park-and-ride lots come from. This helps the city decide where to build their next park-and-ride so people don’t have as far to drive. We answer that question by giving city staff the 5-digit zip code where the car is registered. Without revealing vehicle owner information.

We don't provide personal information for marketing, surveys, or commercial purposes. We never share our customers’ phone numbers or email addresses.

Who does DOL share personal information with, and how do they use it?

We only release personal information in ways the law allows. Here’s who uses different types of data:

Driving records

  • Employers or prospective employers - when the position requires driving.
  • Insurance companies - for underwriting, so they can understand their risk.
  • Transit authorities – to check vanpool drivers’ safety and skills.
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction – to check school bus drivers.
  • Volunteer organizations - to check volunteer drivers who may transport people.
  • Alcohol and drug assessment or treatment agencies – to understand the needs of people coming for evaluation or treatment.
  • City attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, and your lawyer in a court case.
  • Government agencies, public colleges or universities - for employment and risk management purposes.

Driver information (only part of your data)

Governmental agencies use driver information to can carry out their functions, such as:

  • Stopping fraud
  • Collecting taxes
  • Enforcing child support
  • Checking your eligibility for benefits
  • Research
  • Jury pools
  • Voter registration
  • Selective Service

Vehicle owners (lists)

  • Automobile and component manufacturers - for recalls, advisories, research, and statistical reports.
  • Legitimate businesses - to conduct research activities and produce statistical reports.
  • U.S. or Canadian government - for enforcing vehicle or traffic laws, or programs related to traffic safety.
  • Insurance companies or self-insured entities - for investigating claims, anti-fraud activities, rating, or underwriting.
  • Local government - for providing notices to owners of towed or impounded vehicles.
  • Government, commercial parking companies - to notify registered owners of outstanding parking violations.
  • DOL contractors, counties, and licensing sub-agents - for providing motor vehicle excise tax, license, title, and registration information to auto dealers.
  • Toll operators (including Washington State Department of Transportation and its contractor) - to identify toll violations.

Vehicle owners (individual look-ups)

  • All the entities and reasons listed above, in “Vehicle owners (lists).”
  • Private investigators or attorneys in the course of civil, criminal, or other litigation.
  • Process servers - to serve papers during civil, criminal, or other litigation.
  • Bail bondsmen - to prevent fraud when securing collateral.
  • To verify title, lien, and brand information during the sale, trade-in, refinancing, or titling of a vehicle or manufactured home.
  • Government agencies - to perform legitimate duties.

Vessel owners (lists)

  • Vessel and component manufacturers - for recalls, advisories, research, and statistical reports.
  • Legitimate businesses - to conduct research activities and produce statistical reports.
  • U.S. or Canadian government - for enforcing vessel laws, vessel operations, or vessel safety programs.
  • Insurance companies or self-insured entities - for investigating claims, anti-fraud activities, rating, or underwriting.
  • Local government - to locate the owner of, or deal with a vessel that becomes a hazard.
  • DOL contractors, counties, and licensing sub-agents - for providing vessel licensing, titling, and registration information to vessel dealers.

Vessel owners (individual look-ups)

  • All the entities and reasons listed above, in “Vessel owners (lists).”
  • Private investigators or attorneys in the course of civil, criminal or other litigation.
  • Process servers - to serve papers during civil, criminal or other litigation.
  • Bail bondsmen - to verify information and prevent fraud when securing collateral.
  • To verify title, lien, and brand information during the sale, trade-in, refinancing, or titling of a vessel.
  • Government agencies - to perform legitimate duties.

Business and professional licensees

  • Professional training organizations - lists of licensees.
  • Department of Social and Health Services - for child support enforcement.

Does DOL share my Social Security number with anyone?

Yes, we do – but only for a few purposes, and only when the law requires it. This includes:

  • The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services gets social security numbers of people who have to pay child support so they can make sure those payments get made.
  • The Washington Secretary of State gets social security numbers so they can do voter registration.
  • The US Military’s Selective Services gets social security numbers of people who have to register for the draft.

Do any data brokers have access to my personal information?

Yes. DOL works with several reputable companies known as “commercial data brokers.” This makes it easier for people who have the right to see your data to find and receive it. The laws allow people or companies to use an agent to access information they have a right to see. Often they use data brokers.

Data brokers and their customers can use the information we provide only under conditions we specify in a contract. If they violate those conditions we stop sharing data with them.

As of February 2020, here is a list of the data brokers and what they can use the data for:

Driver records

  • DataLink (Transunion) - Employment, volunteer organizations, transit authorities, insurance
  • Embark Safety - Employment, volunteer organizations, transit authorities, insurance
  • Explore Information Services - Employment, volunteer organizations, transit authorities, insurance
  • HireRight - Employment, volunteer organizations, transit authorities, insurance
  • Insurance Information Exchange (iiX) - Employment, volunteer organizations, transit authorities, insurance
  • LexisNexis - Insurance underwriting
  • Safety Holdings - Employment, volunteer organizations, transit authorities, insurance
  • TML - Employment, volunteer organizations, transit authorities, insurance

Vehicle records

  • American Traffic Solutions (Verra Mobility) - Governmental (enforcement and safety programs), tolling
  • Atlas Financial Services - Parking
  • Complus Data (Passport) - Parking
  • Conduent - Governmental (enforcement and safety programs), tolling, parking, towing
  • Data Ticket - Parking
  • Experian - Recalls, research and statistical reports, governmental (enforcement and safety programs), insurance (claims investigations, anti-fraud, ratings, and underwriting), tolling, parking, towing, loans
  • R.L. Polk - Recalls, research and statistical reports, governmental (enforcement and safety programs), insurance (claims investigations, anti-fraud, ratings, and underwriting), tolling, parking, towing, loans
  • Redflex - Governmental (enforcement and safety programs)

How does DOL ensure my personal information is safe?

We have full-time compliance staff assigned to this. They conduct regular investigations and audits to make sure data recipients:

  • Follow our data security requirements.
  • Only use the data as authorized.

If we find that a data recipient is not following the rules, they must work under a corrective action plan to fix all their gaps or mistakes. We will end their access to data if:

  • The deficiency places your personal information at risk of hacking or misuse.
  • The recipient does not fix the deficiencies we found.
  • We determine there is a high risk they will continue to fail to follow the requirements.

What does DOL charge for data?

Most of our fees are set by the legislature, but we determine some of them.

Data service fees
Service type Per-record fee Law
Abstract driver record (ADR) $13.00 RCW 46.52.130
ADR monitoring (notice of a change) $0.06 RCW 46.52.130
Lists of vehicle and vessel owner data $0.02 (waived for state and local government) RCW 46.12.630
Other bulk data requests (includes government and private sector requests for a variety of data not provided by one of the above service delivery methods. Often data is provided at no cost to other government.) $60 per hour RCW 42.56.120
Contracted plate search online service $0.04 per look up
$2.00 per returned record
RCW 42.56.120
RCW 46.12.635

For some services, we charge a monthly fee to cover the costs of providing the data. These fees vary based on:

  • The complexity of the file.
  • How much work it takes to produce the data.
  • Maintenance on the data service interface.

How much data does DOL sell?

From July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 we provided:

Driver records

  • 2,035,134 through Commercial Data Brokers.
  • 23,140,373 through our monitoring service, which only alerts the recipient when there is a change.
  • 32,973 through our Driver Record Request service (Sept 2018-June 2019)

Vehicle records

  • 75,439,188 in bulk requests by private and government entities.
  • 794,514 through our Contracted Plate Search system, used mostly by parking lot operators.

How much money does DOL collect from the sale of data, and where does that money go?

From July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019:

Data-sharing revenue
Service type Revenue Deposited into
Abstract driver record (ADR) $29,622,009 50% Highway safety fund
50% State Patrol highway account
ADR monitoring $2,319,080 100% Highway safety fund
Driver record request online service
(September 2018 - August 2019)
$428,649 50% Highway safety fund
50% State Patrol highway account
Bulk vehicle and vessel owner data $404,677 100% DOL technology improvement and data

Is my permission required before someone can obtain a copy of my driving record?

Sometimes. You must sign a release before someone from these groups can request your driving record:

  • Employers
  • Prospective employers
  • Volunteer organizations

Others, such as courts, can get your driving record without your permission.

Does DOL share information with the Department of Homeland Security for immigration enforcement?

Not without a court order or other legal requirement. In 2017, Governor Inslee issued Executive Order 17-01. This prevents executive and small cabinet agencies from using:

“agency or department monies, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel for the purpose of targeting or apprehending persons for violation of federal civil immigration laws, except as required by federal or state law or otherwise authorized by the Governor.”

We don't provide personal information for immigration-related investigations to federal immigration authorities.

What are driver record monitoring services?

The law allows some people to periodically review driving records for changes. This includes:

  • Employers
  • Prospective employers
  • Transit authorities
  • Insurance carriers
  • State colleges and universities
  • State agencies
  • Local governments

Authorized people provide us a list of driver license numbers and the review period (often monthly). We search the record for changes to the driving record during the stated time frame. If our system detects a change, it sends a new driving record to the requester. This allows these groups to reduce risk and ensure driver safety on an ongoing basis.

What are the ways someone can access data through DOL?

  • Our data services (online services and bulk data)
  • Public records requests
  • Vehicle licensing agents and sub-agents
  • Driver licensing offices
  • Our headquarters office:
    • Driver and Vehicle Records Unit
    • Contract and Initiatives Unit, which handles:
      • Motorcycle safety program
      • Commercial driver License program
      • Driver training school
      • Electronic titling for financial institutions
      • Social Security Administration
    • Driver and Vehicle Investigations Unit
    • Court Unit
  • Business and Professions Division, which handles firearms, notary trainers, and more.

Does DOL require a contract when sharing data?

Yes, recipients must sign a contract when we provide data services that include personal information.

Our contracts include specific requirements to protect personal information, like:

  • Restrictions on how the recipient can use the data.
  • Data security requirements the recipient has to show.
  • The right for us to conduct audits to see if the recipient is following our requirements.
  • Annual assessments and certifications confirming that they remain in compliance.
  • Requirements to notify us and affected people if they have a data breach or discover misuse.
  • Indemnification requirements to cover our costs if we have to go to court.
  • If a recipient shares personal information with a sub-recipient, the recipient must pass on all our requirements to them, and must ensure they also comply.

How does DOL evaluate potential bulk data services customers?

The person who wants data first completes a contract application. They must provide information to prove they have a good legal reason for getting data. They have to explain:

  • The specific data they are requesting.
  • What they will use it for.
  • If they’ll share the information.
  • How they will secure the data.

We check:

  • To see whether the requester is a legitimate business.
  • The reasons they want data.
  • Whether the law allows them to receive data.
  • Whether they can meet our privacy requirements.

After an initial screening, our data services team meets with the applicant to discuss the request. We outline all the requirements they must meet before receiving data, and throughout the life of the contract. If they meet all our requirements, we then enter into a data-sharing agreement.

There are a lot of reasons why DOL may choose not to provide data services, including:

  • It is not required by law.
  • There is a strong risk that the data will be misused or left insecure.
  • We don’t have the resources to provide the data.

What laws authorize, or require DOL to share my personal information?

Driver Privacy Protection Act

The main federal law governing drivers license data.

Driver data

Vehicle and vessel owner information

Driver and plate search (DAPS) and driver information and adjudication system (DIAS)

We have a policy that limits access to these systems.

For DAPS, we limit access to:

  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Courts
  • Other government agencies
  • 911 dispatch communications and records centers
  • Government agency detectives and investigators

For DIAS, we limit access to:

  • Municipal, district, and superior courts
  • Local and state government agencies
  • Prosecuting attorneys

Public disclosure

Social Security Numbers

Release prohibited except as required by law.

Organ donor information

Prohibition of sharing information.

Voter registration data

Release prohibited except as required by law.

More information

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