Make us your home page

A surefire state revenue generator? Selling your driving records

TALLAHASSEE — While sluggish sales tax receipts may have forced the state to slash government spending again this year, one source of revenue continues to pay out:

Your name, address and driving history.

The state of Florida made $73 million from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, by selling drivers license information to private companies, according to new information released by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The selling of personal information of Florida's 15.5 million licensed drivers has been on the books for decades, state officials say, and is common practice across the country. And if the state didn't sell it, Florida would have to give it away for free, because the information is a public record.

But the transaction has become the target of at least one group, who wants the process discontinued.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida is urging Gov. Rick Scott to terminate the agency's contracts with vendors who receive driver information. In a letter Friday, executive director Howard Simon asked Scott to end the practice because Simon says it lacks oversight and violates Floridians' expectation of privacy.

"As governor, you should protect our personal information, not sell it," Simon said. "Just because the state can do something does not mean the state should do it."

Scott's office did not return a call seeking comment.

Who buys the information?

Auto manufacturers that need to tell customers about product recalls. Or insurance companies that ask for customers' driver records for underwriting purposes. Or towing companies that need to get in touch with the owners of abandoned or towed vehicles. And bus lines and school board leaders that want histories of drivers who operate their vehicles.

"The other option would be to provide it for free," said Courtney Heidelberg, the agency's spokeswoman. "It's a public record. We have to provide this information to the requestor."

Most of the profits come from selling electronic driver transcripts that contain records of citations and crashes. At $8 or $10 a record, the sales add up.

A small chunk also comes from selling "penny records," which are electronic files sold to data-mining firms like LexisNexis, ShadowSoft and Acxiom Information Security Services for 1 cent per record. Those records do not contain driver histories but do provide basic information like a driver's license number.

The agency does not release Social Security numbers or drivers' photographs, Heidelberg said. And it's against the law for businesses to use the information for marketing.

Law enforcement officers, child protection investigators, firefighters, judges, prosecutors and public defenders are among the public officials who can block their records from being sold.

The sales netted $73 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year, up $10 million from the year prior and more than double the agency's profits from preceding years.

The increase is largely the result of the Legislature raising the cost of obtaining driver transcripts, from $2 to $8 for three-year histories and $3 to $10 for complete histories.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Reach Katie Sanders at (850) 224-7263 or

A surefire state revenue generator? Selling your driving records 07/25/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 25, 2011 10:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Wanted: New businesses on Safety Harbor's Main Street

    Local Government

    SAFETY HARBOR — A green grocery store, a hardware store, restaurants, boutiques and multi-use buildings are all wanted downtown, according to discussion at a community redevelopment workshop held last week. And to bring them to the Main Street district, city commissioners, led by Mayor Joe Ayoub, gave City Manager …

    Whistle Stop Bar & Grill is one of the main stops on Main Street in Safety Harbor. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  2. Q&A: A business leader and historian jointly delve into Tampa's waterfront


    TAMPA — As a native of Tampa, Arthur Savage has always had a passion for his hometown's history. And as a third-generation owner and operator of A.R. Savage & Son, a Tampa-based shipping agency, his affinity for his hometown also extends to its local waterways.

    Arthur Savage (left) and Rodney Kite-Powell, co-authors of "Tampa Bay's Waterfront: Its History and Development," stand for a portrait with the bust of James McKay Sr. in downtown Tampa on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. McKay, who passed away in 1876, was a prominent businessman, among other things, in the Tampa area. He was Arthur Savage's great great grandfather. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Tampa's connected-vehicle program looking for volunteers


    TAMPA — Drivers on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway can save on their monthly toll bill by volunteering to test new technology that will warn them about potential crashes and traffic jams.

    A rendering shows how new technology available through the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority will warn driver's about crashes, traffic jams, speed decreases and more. THEA is seeking 1,600 volunteers to install the devices, which will display alerts in their review mirrors, as part of an 18-month connected-vehicle pilot.
  4. What Florida's top Republicans are saying about Donald Trump

    State Roundup

    Republicans nationwide are blasting President Donald Trump for how he responded to Charlottesville.

    U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement on the violence this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia at the White House on August 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed in Charlottesville when a car allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr. barreled into a crowd of counter-protesters following violence at the 'Unite the Right' rally. Two Virginia state police troopers were also killed when their helicopter crashed while covering events on the ground. [Getty Images]
  5. Tampa Bay Lightning, Amalie Arena to host job fair today


    TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Lightning and its home, Amalie Arena, are hosting a part-time job fair from 3 to 6 p.m. today on the Promenade Level of the arena. Available positions include platinum services, parking attendants, event security, housekeeping, retail and many other departments.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning and AMALIE Arena is hosting a part-time job fair on Thursday, Aug. 17 on the Promenade level of the arena.