- Associated Press - Friday, August 26, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asked the nation’s highest court on Friday to weigh in on whether a 1994 federal law prevents Arkansas State Police from releasing all driver and survivor information on motor vehicle accident reports.

Rutledge filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a state court ruling that the information, including names and addresses of drivers and passengers in auto accidents handled by state police, is public. The Arkansas Supreme Court in April ruled that the information protected by the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act does not include information on accident reports. The 1994 law was aimed at protecting the privacy of information contained in state motor vehicle records, Rutledge said in the filing with the court.

“Without this court’s review, numerous state agencies, employees and others face potential liability and countless others will be deprived of several important protections in federal law,” Rutledge said in the filing.

Little Rock attorney Daniel Wren filed the lawsuit against the Arkansas State Police last year for access to crash reports after his Freedom of Information Act request for them was denied. Wren, who did not immediately return a message left Friday afternoon, admitted in his filing that he was trying to gain access to a batch of reports to solicit clients.

The state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that Wren was entitled to the records under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.



State Police adopted a policy withholding the information from police reports, the same time a new law went into effect in Arkansas requiring law enforcement officers to withhold juvenile information on those reports.

Rutledge’s office had argued before the Arkansas high court that in most cases, troopers use the magnetic strip on the back of drivers’ licenses to auto-populate the accident report information. The strip links directly to information provided by the state’s motor vehicle information system, which can only release a driver’s information to a handful of approved agencies or people.

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Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

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