FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-05


July 19, 2005

Corinne N. Geller
Public Relations Manager
Department of State Police
Richmond, Virginia

The staff of the Freedom of Information Advisory Council is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your letter of May 27, 2005.

Dear Ms. Geller:

You have asked for advice, in light of Freedom of Information Advisory Opinion 02 (March, 2005) ("AO-02-05"), regarding the release of motor vehicle accident reports that contain information concerning juveniles under §§ 46.2-379 and 46.2-380 of the Code of Virginia. Please be advised that AO-02-05, which related to the release of juvenile records, was rescinded subsequent to your request. Please see Freedom of Information Advisory Opinion 07 (June, 2005) ("AO-07-05") for further details. You did not specify any further factual background for this question.

Section 46.2-379 appears to place an affirmative duty upon the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to disclose certain information upon the request of any person. It does not mention the Department of State Police (DSP). We suggest that you contact your representative at the Office of the Attorney General to determine whether this section applies to DSP, as such a determination is outside the authority of this office. Subsection A of § 46.2-380 places a duty upon both DMV and DSP to disclose motor vehicle accident reports to certain persons listed within the statute. Subsection B of § 46.2-380 addresses record maintenance issues concerning photographic negatives. Neither § 46.2-379 nor § 46.2-380 distinguishes between accident reports involving adults and those involving juveniles.

AO-07-05 makes clear that the provisions of § 2.2-3706 of FOIA supersede the provisions of other statutes that may conflict with § 2.2-3706. To the extent part or all of an accident report falls under the provisions of § 2.2-3706, therefore, the provisions of § 2.2-3706 are controlling. Only one provision of § 2.2-3706 differentiates between juveniles and adults: subsection C states that [i]nformation in the custody of law-enforcement agencies relative to the identity of any individual, other than a juvenile, who is arrested and charged, and the status of the charge or arrest shall be released. If an accident report contains such information, then subsection C is controlling. Keeping in mind that the focus of your question is whether accident reports containing information concerning juveniles must be treated differently than accident reports concerning adults, the answer is that other than information falling under subsection C of § 2.2-3706, the rules are the same regardless of whether the information in an accident report concerns juveniles or adults.

Thank you for contacting this office. I hope that I have been of assistance.


Maria J.K. Everett
Executive Director