State Records Committee Appeal 92-02
DESERET NEWS PUBLISHING COMPANY vs
UTAH DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY, DRIVERS LICENSE DIVISION
DECISION AND ORDER, CASE NO. 92-02
By this appeal the Deseret News seeks an order compelling the Drivers License Division to allow it to inspect, without charge, the driving records of 50 candidates for political office. The Drivers License Division is willing to allow the inspection but is not willing to waive the fee the Division believes it is entitled to pursuant to Utah Code Ann. 41-2-119(1) & 103(29). The State Records Committee, having reviewed the written materials submitted by the parties, and having heard the oral argument and testimony of the parties and comments from other interested persons on November 6, 1992, now issues the following decision and order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. The Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) specifies that "every person has the right to inspect a public record free of charge..." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(1) (1992). See also Utah Code Ann. 63-2-203(4) (1992).
2. However, GRAMA also specifies that "the disclosure of records to which access is governed or limited pursuant to...another state statute, ...is governed by the specific provisions of that statute..." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(6) (1992).
3. We find that the Utah Operators' License Act is just such a statute and that it governs disclosure of driving records. Utah Code Ann. 41-2-102 et. seq. (1992).
4. The specific provisions of the Operators' License Act that govern disclosure of such records allow the Division to charge a fee of $3.00 to "search the license files and furnish a report on the driving record of any person licensed to drive in the state...". Utah Code Ann 41-2-103(2) & 119(1) (1992).
5. Of course, before a person can inspect a driving record the Division must first search the files and furnish it to him/her. Since the Operators' License Act governs, and since it allows the Division to charge a fee for that service, we find that the Division may charge the fee.
6. Moreover, GRAMA specifies that the GRAMA provisions regarding fees do "not alter, repeal, or reduce fees established by other statutes or legislative acts." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-203(7) (1992).
7. We hasten to add that this decision should not be construed as approving the charging of a fee for inspection of a record. Rather, it should be narrowly construed and applies only to situations like the present where another statute specifically authorizes a fee.
8. We also stress that, although the Operators' License Act authorizes the Division to charge the $3.00 fee, it does not require them to do so. The Division could have waived the fee and we strongly believe that they should have done so in this case since the request was not burdensome and since disclosure primarily benefits the public. If the Deseret News is still interested in the records, we encourage the Division to waive the fee, though we do not believe we have authority to mandate a fee waiver in this case.
THEREFORE IT IS ORDERED THAT the decision of the Department of Public Safety is sustained and the appeal is denied.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
Either party may appeal this Decision and Order to district court. The petition for review must be filed no later than 30 days after the date of this order. The petition for judicial review must be a complaint. The complaint and the appeals process are governed by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure and by Utah Code Ann. 63-2- 404 & 502(7) (1992). The court is required to make its decision de novo, In order to protect its rights on appeal, a party may wish to seek advice from an attorney.
Entered this 12th day of November, 1992.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE,
MAX J. EVANS, Chairman