ST. PAUL — Five current employees at two deputy registrar offices have permanently lost access to driver and vehicle data as a result of audits conducted by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services Division (DPS-DVS).
Fairfax Deputy Registrar office
DPS-DVS became aware of an employee of the Fairfax Deputy Registrar office using another employee’s access credentials, which is not allowed under the law. This triggered an audit by DPS-DVS and auditors found seven instances where the two users accessed DVS data without a lawful business purpose. As a result, their access to DVS data has been permanently revoked, as required by law.
Because the two individuals are the only employees of the Fairfax Deputy Registrar, the office will need to close until other individuals can be hired, trained and authorized to access DPS-DVS data.
The Fairfax Deputy Registrar office is privately owned and operated. In addition to vehicle title and registration services, the office is also a limited driver’s license agent.
North Mankato Deputy Registrar office
Three of the five employees of the North Mankato Deputy Registrar office have permanently lost access to driver and vehicle data after it was found that the individuals accessed several driver’s license and motor vehicle records without a lawful business purpose.
A self-search by an employee at the North Mankato office on May 4 triggered the audit by DPS-DVS. It is unlawful for a person with access to DPS-DVS data to perform a search on themselves or anyone else without a lawful business purpose. DPS-DVS suspended the user on May 28.
Additional DPS-DVS auditing found four users in the office accessed DPS-DVS data without a lawful business purpose. Three of the four individuals are current employees, while the fourth is no longer an employee of the privately owned office. The revocations leave two employees at the North Mankato office with access to DPS-DVS data.
It is not clear how this action will affect services provided by the North Mankato deputy registrar office. North Mankato Deputy Registrar office is privately owned and operated. In addition to vehicle title and registration services, the office is also a limited driver’s license agent.
Minnesota law requires permanent revocation
Minnesota law requires DPS-DVS to “immediately and permanently revoke the authorization of any individual who entered, updated, accessed, shared or disseminated data in violation of state or federal law.” (Minnesota Statutes section 171.12).
While the law says access must be revoked "immediately and permanently," it does not state whether or not the person should be reassigned or their employment terminated. That is the decision of the employer. However, if a person needs to access the DPS-DVS data as a part of their assigned job duties they will no longer be able to perform that part of their job.
In addition, the law requires DPS-DVS to forward the matter to the appropriate prosecuting authority for prosecution when an “individual willfully gained access to data without authorization by law.” Information about the misuse found at both offices was forwarded to the respective county attorneys for review of possible criminal charges.
DPS-DVS has taken action in several cases since the law went into effect in October of 2018. A total of 51 people, including employees at private companies and state employees, have been permanently revoked from having access to DPS-DVS data.
Communication to authorized users
DPS-DVS sends a quarterly reminder to everyone with access to DPS-DVS data. Users are also required to complete an individual records access agreement and annually attest to the policy concerning the security and confidentiality of DPS-DVS data and records. Users are reminded penalties apply to any user with access to DPS-DVS data, not just state employees. Anyone who misuses access to DPS-DVS information will permanently lose their access to DVS data. There is no opportunity for a person to regain their access once it is terminated.
It is not clear how this action will affect services provided by the North Mankato deputy registrar office. The Fairfax Deputy Registrar office will need to close until other individuals can be hired, trained and authorized to access DPS-DVS data.
The offices offer the following services:
- Driver’s License: First time applications, duplicate, and renewal (standard, REAL-ID, EDL)
- Vehicles: Registration, title transaction, same say duplicate titles.
- Expedited Services offered for vehicle title and driver’s license applications
- Disability Parking Certifications
- International Fuel Tax and International Registration Plan services for interstate motor carriers
- DNR registration (boat, snowmobile)
- Fish and Game Licenses
Offices closest to the North Mankato Deputy Registrar offering similar services include:
- New Ulm
- Saint Peter
- Le Center
Offices closest to Fairfax Deputy Registrar offering similar services include:
- Sleepy Eye
- New Ulm
- Redwood Falls
More information about DPS-DVS locations and services is available at drive.mn.gov
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,200 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About Driver and Vehicle Services
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services division (DVS) is responsible for driver testing, driver licensing and maintenance of driver records; driver evaluation and compliance; motor vehicle title and registration; commercial vehicle registration; motor vehicle dealer licensing and regulation; and enforcement of no-fault insurance requirements.