Should you be able to access motor vehicle records of a public employee driving a public vehicle?
By: LFDA EditorSB 402
was signed into law on July 1, 2010. It makes motor vehicle records of accidents or collisions involving state-owned or state-leased vehicles governmental records subject to the right-to-know law.
Chapter 260, which covers the administration of motor vehicle laws in New Hampshire, had been shielding the records of every driver in the state.
That includes the records of public employees driving public cars during public time.
It was the all-inclusive nature of the act that had two newspapers -- the Manchester Union Leader and Portsmouth Herald -- making challenges to the rule under a Right to Know request.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Mark Hodgdon argued against the Portsmouth Herald’s request. Hodgdon told the court that New Hampshire’s Privacy Act was “intended to protect all of us from unwanted intrusion in our life.”
House Speaker Terie Norelli told the Portsmouth Herald that the legislation was approved because "we all agreed that it should be public information."
It was part of a bill pertaining to state motor vehicle fleets.
Norelli told the Herald said there was debate about including town, city and county-owned vehicles in the amendment to make information about those vehicles public, as well. But because, "frankly, it was late in the session," the amendment pertains only to state vehicles.
In the future she said, "Maybe someone will file legislation for municipal vehicles."
Is it a good idea to expand the law to municipally-owned or leased vehicles as well?