April 20, 2006
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence.
I have received your letter in which you questioned the legality of a ten dollar fee imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles for searching for records.
In this regard, §87(1)(b)(iii) of the Freedom of Information Law limits the fee for photocopying to twenty-five cents per photocopy, unless a different fee is prescribed by statute. In this instance, §202(2) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law specifies that the Department of Motor Vehicles may charge the fee to which you referred. Paragraph (a) of §202(2) states that: "The fee for a search which is made manually by the department shall be ten dollars."
Based on the foregoing, it is clear that the search fee imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles is authorized by statute.
I hope that the foregoing serves to clarify your understanding of the matter.
Robert J. Freeman