We previously reported on the 2012 case of Senne v Village of Palatine, 695 F.3d 597 (7th Cir. 2012) where the court held that placing a parking ticket on the windshield of a car is a “disclosure” of private information within the meaning of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2721. The court remanded the case to determine if private information on a ticket placed face down on a windshield constituted a permissible use under the Act.
In Senne v Village of Palatine, No. 13-3671 decided April 28, 2015 the 7th Circuit affirmed the longstanding practice of placing parking tickets on vehicle windshields. The court said that even though the ticket contained private information as defined under the Act, the disclosure of this private information was allowed because the information is for use in connection with an administrative proceeding and for use by a law enforcement agency in carrying out its functions. Both of these uses are permitted under the Act 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(1) and (b)(4).
Relying on the deposition testimony of the Palatine Police Chief, the court identified numerous lawful uses for the private information contained on the parking ticket. Personal information such as name, address, height and weight increases the likelihood that the person will pay the ticket because the police know the person’s identity and address and will have no difficulty locating the person. The information also supports the Village policy of voiding tickets for out of town visitors. The information may also be used to help a person with limited English proficiency to communicate with a police officer if subsequently stopped. The person can just show the police officer the ticket to communicate identity. Finally the information on the ticket enables drivers to correct errors in the state motor vehicle records.
The court concluded by saying that this limited disclosure of personal information has not resulted in any known harm, such as stalking, identity theft or invasion of privacy to the persons receiving a parking ticket.
Municipalities may continue to issue windshield parking tickets based on this case, but should continue to exercise caution when gathering or disclosing private information subject to the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.
Post Authored by Steve Mahrt, Ancel Glink