Public Record Update
September 2013
Motor Vehicle News

Kansas - Driving and Vehicle Records
The fee for electronic access of Kansas motor vehicle records is increasing by $2.10 per record effective October 1, 2013. For interactive processing for driver and vehicle records the fee increase is from $6.60 to $8.70. For batch processing for driver and vehicle records the fee increase is from $6.00 to $8.10. There is no fee increase for manually processed records, such as requests by mail or in person. Kansas also offers a monitoring system for employers to monitor commercial drivers. That fee also is increasing from $6.00 to $8.10 per driver.

The electronic processing of Kansas motor vehicle records is through Kansas.gov, an affiliate of NIC. See www.kansas.gov/subscribers/services.

Michigan - Driving and Vehicle Records
Effective October 1, 2013, the Record Look-up Unit in the Driver and Vehicle Records Division of the Department of State is raising the fee for driver and vehicle records by $1.00. The fee for a non-certified record or an electronic record will increase from $7.00 to $8.00. A certified record will increase from $8.00 to $9.00. The fee also affects those entities participating in the state's notification and monitoring program for employers and insurance companies - an increase from $7.00 to $8.00 when a record is generated.

New Release of AAMVA's ACD Code Table
A new release of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators' Code Dictionary Manual, including what is commonly referred to as the ACD Codes, became effective September 1, 2013. The changes include items from Version 5.0.0 released February 1, 2013 and Version 5.1.0 released July 1, 2013. Both 5.0.0 and 5.1.0 are effective September 1, 2013.

The ACD Codes, part of the overall 153-page manual, are used by the states' motor vehicle and licensing agencies to identify, translate, and communicate convictions and reasons for withdrawals. The ACD Codes are an integral part of the communications between the states using the Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) and the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS).

For a summary of these changes, go to www.MVRDecoder.com and click on the tab "About ACD Codes."

Nevada District Courts - Fee Decrease

Several fee changes are taking place for Nevada District Court records and also for records held by Nevada county clerks. Effective October 1, 2013 the fee for a record search and the fee for a record copy is lowered from $1.00 to $.50. The change is part of Senate Bill 74. The fees are mentioned on page nine.

Essentially this bill affects records maintained by the District Court (felony, gross misdemeanors, civil actions over $10,000, probate, domestic relations, child support, guardianships, appeals from Municipal and Justice Courts, etc.) and the County Clerks (marriage and voter registration records, among others). The bill does NOT affect fees at the Justice Courts, Municipal Courts or records held by the County Recorder. Therefore those search and copy fees remain the same.

While the bill and statute refer specifically to the County Clerk and not to the District Clerk or the District Court Administrator, this is merely a point of language. The assumption continually used is that the clerk mentioned is the ex officio Clerk of the District Court.

National Average - Court Fees for Name Searches

BRB Publications recently completed a statistical analysis to determine the national average of fees charged by court personnel for performing a name search of either the criminal or civil docket. The study included 4,731 criminal courts and 4,815 civil courts at the county level. Per the stats below, quite a few courts (over 20%) refuse to perform a name search for the public. They will refer a requester to an online system or a state repository. Of course, if a case number is given the court will pull the file.

Guidelines Used on the Analysis:
  • If the court charged by the year, seven years was used as the baseline.
  • If the court's fee is based on an hourly rate, an average of 12 minutes per search was used as the baseline.
  • Since the search fee in some courts is sometimes based on the number of case files to pull (hits), the study included 3 different fee levels: if the name search resulted in no hits, with one hit, and with 3 hits.
Criminal Court Results
Total number of courts surveyed: 4,731
Courts willing to do a name search: 3,566 (75.4%)
National average fee if no hits: $8.17
Average fee if one hit: $8.35
Average fee if three hits: $8.66
Courts that perform name search for free: 1,091 (23%)
Cost to do national search: $29,105.10

Civil Court Results
Total number of courts surveyed: 4,815
Courts willing to do a name search: 3,716 (77%)
National average fee if no hits: $6.85
Average fee if one hit: $6.98
Average fee if three hits: $7.23
Courts that perform name search for free: 1,098 (22.8%)
Cost to do national search: $25,451.25

Counties and Courts with Highest Fees in U.S.
The county with the highest fee for a name search for either a civil or criminal record is Cook County IL. The fee is $9.00 per year searched or $63 for a 7 year search. The Superior Court in Cochise County AZ charges $27 per 5 years searched, so a 7-year search costs $54. Also, 44 counties in IL charge $6.00 per name per year making the fee for a 7-year search at $42.00.

When the court tacks on additional fees to pull case files - such as the 3 hit fee reviewed above - the courts with the highest fees are 13 (or more) Justice Courts located in these Arizona counties: Cochise, Coconino, Greenlee, La Paz, Navajo, Pinal, and Yavapai. The search fee is $25.00 per name plus $25.00 for each case file that needs to be viewed. (The case file fee is charged even if the case number is already known.) Thus a single request for a name search that necessitates the need to pull 3 case files will cost $100 - or nearly 12 times the national average. The practice of charging this fee seems to fluctuate at times though, depending on which clerk doing the search or if the judge is asked "what is the fee?" The statute is somewhat unclear thus the fee is often left for local interpretation.

The information for this study was taken from the Public Record Research System (PRRS).

Recorded Documents News

Maine
With the passage of Public Law 370, Maine recorder offices will impose a $6.00 fee increase effective October 9, 2013. The recording fees increase from $13 to $19; the "plans" fee changes from $15 to $21. Note customers can receive free the first 500 images purchased in a calendar year. The 50 cents per image will continue for additional copies. Bulk sales remain at 5 cents per image for consecutive copies over 1,000.

See www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_126th/chapters/PUBLIC370.asp

Texas
House Bill 1513 amends the Government Code to raise the cap from $5 to $10 on the district court records archive fee as set by the commissioners court of a county and collected by district court clerks. The bill also amends the Local Government Code to also raise the cap from $5 to $10 on the records management and preservation fee and the records archive fee, set and collected by county clerks. These raises not mandatory and are at the discretion of the county officials. The law is effective September 1, 2013, and it expires September 1, 2019.

A vendor provides a list on the Web of counties who are imposing the fee increase, see www.erxchange.com/UI/content/TexasFeeChanges.pdf

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