(September 12, 2012)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new data sharing initiative that will give law enforcement agencies greater and instantaneous access to information housed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) through a secure internet portal. This information includes photos of all New York State drivers and non-drivers, vehicle registrations, drivers’ lifetime driving histories, as well as real-time notifications of traffic violations and other changes to a driver’s record.
“This initiative adds another tool for law enforcement, making it easier for them to identify, find and arrest suspects,” Governor Cuomo said. “Providing better access to DMV information is part of an ongoing effort to make state government more productive, effective and streamlined.”
The initiative will provide law enforcement with expanded and faster access to:
- LAWMAN – A searchable database of all New York State vehicle registration information
- DMV Photo – License and ID photos of all New York State drivers and non-drivers
- Driver’s Abstracts – Full history of each New York State driver, including all driving related violations and criminal convictions
- License Event Notification System (LENS) – A real-time traffic ticket and other violation notification system
The specific features of the initiative are below:
Direct Access to LAWMAN Database
The LAWMAN database includes approximately 15.6 million registration files which is every vehicle registered in New York State. These files are critical in helping law enforcement identify and arrest suspects based on available information about vehicles such as partial license plate numbers.
Currently, the New York State Police must perform all LAWMAN searches for vehicle registration information on behalf of law enforcement agencies around the state. This initiative allows all law enforcement agencies to have direct access to the LAWMAN database over a secure internet site, even when they are in their patrol cars as long as the car has internet access. By streamlining this process, law enforcement can save staff time and produce greater efficiency for taxpayers. Usage will be audited by the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) on an ongoing basis to ensure appropriate usage to maintain the protection of privacy.
Expanded Access to NYS Driver License and Non-Driver ID Photos
DMV Photo is a database of approximately 16 million photo images of New York State drivers and non-drivers. DMV Photo allows officers to compare a driver’s license photo against a person’s appearance.
Currently, to obtain a driver license or non-driver ID photo, a law enforcement agency has to be authorized based on a set of complex criteria. This new initiative opens the process, allowing each law enforcement agency the opportunity to set up a protocol to request photos. Once a police department sets up its specific protocol, its officers will be able to access the photos in any internet-enabled patrol car. Usage of DMV Photo will also be continually audited by DCJS to ensure appropriate usage.
Complete Driving Histories Made Available to Prosecutors
The new initiative will provide prosecutors with the entire driving history of a driver. Currently, only the last four years of a person’s driving record is available to prosecutors or, in the case of a DWI conviction, the previous 10 years. A full driving history will help prosecutors make appropriate charging and sentencing recommendations.
Access to LENS System
Currently, over 30,000 individuals in New York State are on parole or probation for driving-related crimes whose driving privileges have been suspended or restricted. The DMV-maintained “LENS” system is being modified to enable law enforcement to receive real-time notifications of tickets issued to drivers under such supervision. Parole and probation officers can enroll in this service and will be notified automatically if an individual under their supervision receives a traffic ticket, indicating that he or she has violated the terms and conditions of his or her parole or probation by driving. This improved access will be limited to law enforcement only and will allow for better monitoring of problem drivers to protect public safety.
Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Elizabeth Glazer said, “The driver data maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles is a powerful resource for law enforcement across the state to perform criminal investigations and make appropriate and fair sentencing and charging decisions. This data sharing initiative is another example in the Governor’s work to pursue beneficial government collaboration and reform in order to serve and protect New Yorkers.”
DMV Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala said, “The Department of Motor Vehicles has a long history of sharing information with the law enforcement community to assist with criminal investigations and to ensure public safety. Working in partnership with DCJS, the State Police, District Attorneys and local law enforcement to improve access to DMV data is an important step toward making our roads and our communities safer.”
DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael Green said, “As a former District Attorney, I know how important it is for police officers to have quick access to accurate and up-to-date information, whether they are on routine patrol or investigating a case. These new data-sharing initiatives will allow law enforcement agencies to do their jobs more safely, effectively and efficiently. Law enforcement now has yet another tool to save lives and better protect their communities.”
State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said, “Ensuring the public's continued safety is law enforcement's ultimate goal. This initiative will enable law enforcement personnel throughout the state to solve crimes faster and conduct more thorough investigations, which ultimately benefits all New Yorkers.”
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said, “In the post 9-11 world we have all learned the value of information and communication between government agencies and law enforcement. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s decision to use technology to provide all levels of law enforcement with the real-time data we need to conduct investigations ranging from counter terrorism to homicides to fraud to hit and run crashes. By removing the former obstacles, the Governor will instantly improve law enforcement’s ability to prevent crimes and prosecute those that cannot be prevented. I would especially like to recognize the hard work of Special Counsel for Public Integrity and Ethics Jeremy Creelan, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Liz Glazer and Assistant Secretary Mary Kavaney.”
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said, “The DMV Data Sharing Initiative will give law enforcement agencies in Monroe County and across New York State real-time access to the vital information that the Department of Motor Vehicles has available. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for ushering in a new era of inter-governmental cooperation and for giving my colleagues in law enforcement and I another common sense tool to keep our communities safe.”
Donald B. Smith, President of New York State Sheriff’s Association and Putnam County Sheriff, said, “I applaud these changes to allow increased sharing of Department of Motor Vehicles’ information with local law enforcement. Local law enforcement agencies' direct and timely access to this critical information will help solve and prevent crimes across the State. This will help solve and deter crime which will in turn lower the crime rate even further in New York State. On behalf of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, I thank Governor Cuomo and our leaders in Albany for the tremendous progress we have made.”
Michael Biasotti, Town of New Windsor Police Department Chief and President of New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said, “Traffic Enforcement is one of the most fundamental and beneficial components of good police work. It positively impacts crime prevention and quality of life issues as well as highway safety. Enforcement issues will be greatly improved with the expanded flow of information from the Department of Motor Vehicles and all New Yorkers will truly be safer as a result of it.”