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The D.M.V.’s Secret Files
Explanation / History
By Scott Rohter
The DMV is keeping 40,000 “secret files” on Oregon drivers and creating approximately 1000 more “secret files” on Oregonians every year. Are they keeping a secret file on you?
These non-mandatory reports come from a variety of different sources
|The courts and the DMV
|Family, Friends, and Others
|Doctors and Health Care Providers
|*(This category is subject to a proposed rules change)
In 1987 this program was created by the Legislature to report so called “at risk drivers” usually senior citizens who are driving beyond their safe driving years. However it has been subject to abuse. The public interest is not served by encouraging people to file secret reports on their fellow citizens! There is no overall benefit to society nor to the individual about whom such a report is filed to keep this information secret. An Oregon resident should be able to access any information that the DMV has on them in their files with a simple written and signed public records request that would satisfy privacy requirements.
DMV only proposes to change the rules with respect to “secret police reports,” to make only those reports coming from police officers subject to this rules change. That would make only those reports coming from police officers available to an individual, about whom they are made upon receipt of request. As I testified on February 21, 2008 at the last meeting of the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC); this change in the rules, although welcome, is nevertheless inadequate! It still leaves approximately 20,000 secret files at the DMV and allows approximately 1,000 new secret reports to be filed every year!
Upon what basis should access to these reports filed by the courts, DMV and others be denied to someone? Why should someone’s family, friends, or neighbors be allowed to file a secret report about them and have their identity shielded and the information contained in their report blocked? Not everyone’s family and neighbors are necessarily on good terms with them and there may be other factors at work behind any such secret report, therefore, it is not possible to keep this anonymity from being abused. If someone is unable or unwilling to openly report, someone else, who they think is a dangerous driver then their report should not be considered at all!
If as DMV suggests these non mandatory reports are intended to keep so called “at risk drivers” from driving beyond their “safe driving years” when their judgment, skills, and reaction times are all less than adequate to keep them from injuring themselves and others on Oregon roads, then let me offer the following suggestion: DMV should immediately institute a program of mandatory retesting every 2 years for all senior drivers over the age of 78, with their licenses renewable for periods of 2 years instead of the current 8 years. This will shift the responsibility back upon the state to re-test and re-license only competent drivers
, where it belongs, and not leave it up to citizens to try to figure out just who is or who is not a good driver and then turn them in for re-testing.
Scott Rohter has lived in Oregon since 1991. He is the author and publisher of this website. For the past 20 years he has been a resident of Vida Oregon, where he owns and operates an appliance repair company. When not managing his appliance repair business, he also manages a small private forest. In 1990 he was the author of Oregon House Bill 3453, a foreclosure reform bill that unanimously passed the House Committee on Government and Regulatory Reform, yet was not enacted into law. He has recently testified before the Oregon Transportation Commission on the matter of secret files at the DMV.
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