November 5, 1993
Mr. Michael A. Kless
87 Payne Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14220
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to
issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is
based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.
Dear Mr. Kless:
I have received your letter concerning fees charged by the
Department of Motor Vehicles in the amount of $5 for search and $1
per copy. You have questioned the propriety of those fees.
In this regard, as you suggested in your letter, the Freedom
of Information Law ordinarily permits agencies to charge up to 25
cents per photocopy. Specifically, §87(1)(b)(iii) of the Freedom
of Information Law requires agencies to adopt rules and regulations
concerning the implementation of the Law, as well as:
"the fees for copies of records which shall
not exceed twenty-five cents photocopy not in
excess of nine inches by fourteen inches, or
the actual cost of reproducing any other
record, except when a different fee is
otherwise prescribed by statute."
Based on the language quoted above, an agency cannot charge more
than 25 cents per photocopy or impose a fee for search "except when
a different fee is otherwise prescribed by statute."
In this instance, a statute, §202 of the Vehicle and Traffic
Law, authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles to charge the fees
to which you referred. Specifically, §202(2)(a) states that "The
fee for a search which is made manually by the department shall be
five dollars." Further, §202(3) states in relevant part that:
"The fees for copies of documents other than accident reports shall
be one dollar per page." It appears that the fees that you were
charged are based upon §202 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, a
statute, and that those fees, therefore, are proper.
I hope that the foregoing serves to clarify the matter.
Robert J. Freeman