A bill aiming to keep people’s personal information out of the public eye following a car crash passed its second committee on Tuesday.
SB 1614 passed the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee unanimously. The legislation would make indefinite the current 60-day public records exemption for the personal information of people who are involved in car crashes and receive traffic tickets.
Personal identifying information from crashes and traffic tickets currently are exempt for 60 days, except in cases that meet exemptions outlined in the 1994 federal Driver Privacy Protection Act. Those include people involved in the crash, their lawyers, involved insurance agents, law enforcement and the media. Currently, people’s date of birth, driver’s license number and insurance policy number can go public after the 60-day protections expire.
After the bill barely passed its first committee following concerns from First Amendment advocacy groups, Sen. Gayle Harrell, the bill’s sponsor, submitted an amendment to give the media improved access compared to the legislation’s previous version.
Under the first version, media could only access summary reports with limited information around the crash. That included those involved, the cars involved, the names of responding law enforcement officers and whether any arrests or traffic citations were issued. The amendment changes the bill to give media access to semi-redacted incident reports.
The bill’s next stop is the Senate Rules Committee.