If a city uses a private company to issue traffic tickets to red light violators, are the ticket records of the ticket-issuing contractor public records by extension or are they the private records of the private entity? And if they are public records, can they be disclosed without violating the federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act? Courthouse News reports on an in interesting case in Florida:
The St. Petersburg Times sued Kenneth City and American Traffic Solutions, which won a city contract to issue traffic citations to red-light violators. The city and the private company both blew off the newspaper’s FOIA requests; ATS said it “does not consider records it creates and maintains to be ‘public records.'” The newspaper disagrees.
An ATS attorney wrote to Lindberg that “ATS does not consider records it creates and maintains to be ‘public records.'” ATS offered to tell Lindberg “the number of violations that have been received, but not the names of the drivers.”
In a subsequent interview with the police chief, the chief told Lindberg “that the city does receive a report from ATS containing the names of the alleged red light violators,” according to the complaint. But the city refused to release the records, claiming disclosure would “violate the Drivers Privacy Protection Act.”
The Times says it “has a clear legal and constitutional right to inspect all public records to which no statutory exemption applies,” and adds that “the city has a mandatory and nondiscretionary duty to permit the inspection of all nonexempt public records.”
Read more on Courthouse News.
Related: Complaint in Times Publishing v. City of Kenneth City.