Tuesday, December 8, 2015

D.A.V.I.D. and Goliath

It's an epic tale. Weak versus strong. The weaker of the two overpowers the strong. A story beautifully told in 1 Samuel 17 of the Bible. In modern America, this struggle is seen in the world of sport and competition. For lawyers, every case seems to be a tale of David and Goliath. The "Goliath" of them all being the Government. 

In Florida, the Driver and Vehicle Information Database (D.A.V.I.D) is exclusively for Government including law enforcement, the judiciary, prosecutors, and some related state agencies such as Department of Children and Families. (Private attorneys like us are not authorized access).  Authorized users may only access the system, which includes Driver's License information, personal contact information, emergency contacts, crash reports, vehicle registration, and more for business purposes like crash investigations, and confirming identities. 

Unauthorized use is subject to penalties under Chapter 119 Florida Statutes, which states that EACH unauthorized use is a misdemeanor in the first degree punishable by up to one year in jail, and is subject to a $500 fine. Misuse is also a violation of the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act, which provides a civil cause of action.  Additionally, it's career suicide. 

In 2012, The Orlando Sentinel exposed a 400% increase of misuse.  Some refer to the system as "Google for Cops." Many misusers of the system are simply lazy or curious. Some are just flirting. 

So why does this matter? Those who have the power to access this information may think, "no harm, no foul," but its a violation of the law for a reason, and every Floridian should request their free public record annually to see if your information was illegally accessed.  

A few months ago, we learned that a colleague had requested his D.A.V.I.D. report for free from the State.  What he discovered was shocking...a judge, a JUDGE illegally accessed the D.A.V.I.D. system and ran a background check on this attorney.   Rather than exercise his rights publicly, he quietly addressed the situation with the Chief Judge.  

So we were curious. Has anyone illegally accessed our records?  We did a public records request and here is what we found...

One (1) investigator at the State Attorney's Office for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Duval);
One (1) Assistant State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida;
One (1) employee of the Duval County Property Appraiser's Office;
Six (6) Jacksonville Sheriff's Office officers, and two other searches from anonymous users from JSO; and
One (1) judicial assistant for a circuit judge for the Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida (Duval). 

While we consider our next step legally, you should take a moment to request your D.A.V.I.D. search history. Here is how:

(1) Send an email to DAVIDPublicRecordRequest@flhsmv.gov;
(2) write "Record Request" in the subject line; 
(3) in the body of the email write, "I would like to request a record of every time DAVID was accessed to search my Driver’s License#  [INSERT NUMBER] from [DATE] until Present.

The agency will notify you that the first hour of the search is free, and you would owe $19.08 for each additional hour of search.  Typically, the search takes about 1-2 hours. 

If you determine that you are a victim of D.A.V.I.D. misuse and you would like to move forward on civil or criminal remedies, contact us as soon possible to discuss your legal rights at 904-516-5560 or contact@plataschott.com.

Plata Schott Attorneys & Counselors at Law are attorneys with offices in Jacksonville, FL. For more information, visit www.plataschott.com. 

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