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State ex rel. Motor Carrier Service, Inc. v. Rankin

Supreme Court of Ohio

April 18, 2013

The State ex rel. Motor Carrier Service, Inc., Appellant, Rankin, Registrar, et al., Appellees. The State ex rel. Motor Carrier Service, Inc.
v.
Rankin, Registrar, et al.

Submitted April 10, 2013

Appeal from the Court of Appeals for Franklin County, No. 10AP-1178, 2012-Ohio-2590.

Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease, L.L.P., Lisa Pierce Reisz, Kenneth J. Rubin, and Thomas E. Szykowny, for relator in case No. 2012-1394 and appellant in case No. 2012-1264.

Michael DeWine, Attorney General, and William J. Cole and Hillary R. Damaser, Assistant Attorneys General, for respondents in case No. 2012-1394 and appellees in case No. 2012-1264.

In Mandamus.

Per Curiam.

{¶ 1} This consolidated case is a public-records matter dealing with the interplay of (1) Ohio's Public Records Act, R.C. 149.43, (2) the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994, 18 U.S.C. 2721 et seq. and its counterpart in Ohio, R.C. 4501.27 (collectively, "the DPPA"), and (3) a Bureau of Motor Vehicles ("BMV") rule, Ohio Adm.Code 4501:1-12-02(D)(2).

{¶ 2} Case No. 2012-1394 is an original action in which relator, Motor Carrier Service, Inc. ("MCS"), an Ohio trucking company, seeks a writ of mandamus to compel respondents, BMV Registrar Mike Rankin and Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Thomas P. Charles, to provide an unredacted, noncertified copy of the driving records of an MCS employee at cost. The case is consolidated with case No. 2012-1264, a direct appeal from the Tenth District Court of Appeals, involving the same parties and the same issues, but a different driving record.

{¶ 3} In both cases, MCS requested unredacted copies of the driving records of its employees from the BMV at cost. The BMV refused to provide unredacted copies at cost-five cents per page-but instead, following the BMV rule, required MCS to specify the basis for its entitlement to an unredacted copy on form BMV1173 and to pay a $5 fee for a certified copy. MCS claims that it does not need a certified copy and that it should be able to receive an unredacted copy at cost under the Public Records Act.

{¶ 4} MCS is not entitled to a writ of mandamus, because disclosure of the records is prohibited by the DPPA unless a requester can demonstrate a permissible use, which it must do by complying with the procedure outlined in the rule, Ohio Adm.Code 4501:1-12-02(D)(2). The BMV properly promulgated the rule under its rule-making authority. The rule creates a procedure for requesting DPPA-governed materials, which includes filling out and submitting form BMV1173 and paying the $5 fee. The specific provisions of R.C. 4501.27 and Ohio Adm.Code 4501:1-12-02(D)(2) prevail over the general provisions of R.C. 149.43, including the provision requiring that public records should be provided "at cost."

{¶ 5} For the following reasons, we affirm the Tenth District in case No. 2012-1264 and deny the writ in case No. 2012-1394.

Facts

{¶ 6} The BMV is a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety ("DPS") and is a public office within the meaning of the Public Records Act. State ex rel. Mancini v. Ohio Bur. of Motor Vehicles, 69 Ohio St.3d 486, 633 N.E.2d 1126 (1994).

{¶ 7} The DPPA prohibits the disclosure of personal information that the BMV has in connection with a driving record. R.C. 4501.27(A); 18 U.S.C. 2721(a). However, the DPPA permits disclosure for use by an employer or insurer to obtain or verify information about the holder of a commercial driver's license. R.C. 4501.27(B)(2)(j); 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(9). The federal DPPA does not establish a procedure for requesting protected material from the BMV, but Ohio's statute grants the BMV rule-making authority to carry out its duties. R.C. 4501.27(E). The BMV promulgated Ohio Adm.Code 4501:1-12-02 under this authority.

Case No. 2012-1264

{¶ 8} On August 31, 2010, MCS submitted a public-records request to the BMV seeking an unredacted copy of the driving record of one of its employees. In its request, MCS stated that the record was necessary to verify information about the employee's commercial driver's license as required by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986, 49 U.S.C. 2701 et seq. MCS did not submit a form BMV1173 with its request, nor did it pay any fee.

{¶ 9} The BMV provided MCS with a copy of the driving record, but with the employee's personal information redacted. In a subsequent letter, an attorney for DPS explained that the redaction is required by R.C. 149.43(A)(1)(v) and the DPPA, unless the request is made by a ...


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