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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

For motorists, a long-overdue $1 credit



The last thing Florida needs is for less money to be coming into the treasury. But legislators learned this week they will have $10.4-million less to pay for programs next year. The reason: a major federal class-action lawsuit in which the state was alleged to have illegally sold personal driver license information of millions of motorists.

A judge has given preliminary approval to a settlement that will affect motorists whose privacy was violated over four years in violation of a federal law, the Drivers Privacy Protection Act, which beginning in 1999 prohibited disclosure of the information Florida was releasing to data-mining firms.

The case, Collier v. Dickinson, in U.S. District Court in Miami, dates to 2004, and exposed the state to billions of dollars of potential damages. Both sides reached a settlement that will include a $1credit on motor vehicle registration renewals for one year beginning July 1. The state has estimated that 10.4-million people are eligible for the refund.

"No one's hurt, no one's injured, and we're paying $10-million?" asked Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee.

"It's $10-million or the potential is in the billions," Steven Fielder, lobbyist for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, told the committee, which was briefed on the case Wednesday. 


[Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 3:13pm]


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