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February 1, 1999

Mr. Frank M. Crull
Assistant General Counsel
Texas Department of Public Safety
P.O. Box 4087
Austin, Texas 78773-001

OR99-0292

Dear Mr. Crull:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 121773.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (the "department") received two requests for its file relating to a traffic accident that occurred on July 17, 1998. You indicate that you have provided the requestors with copies of the Peace Officer's Accident Reports. You contend that the remainder of the file is excepted from disclosure pursuant to sections 552.103 and 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the documents at issue.

Section 552.108(a)(1) excepts from disclosure "[i]nformation held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime . . . if . . . release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime." You characterize the information at issue as "accident investigation documentation." You inform us that this information relates to a pending criminal investigation. Based upon this representation, we conclude that the release of this information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime. See Houston Chronicle Publ'g Co. v. City of Houston, 531 S.W.2d 177 (Tex. Civ. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1975), writ ref'd n.r.e. per curiam, 536 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. 1976) (court delineates law enforcement interests that are present in active cases).

We note, however, that information normally found on the front page of an offense report is generally considered public. See generally Gov't Code 552.108(c); Houston Chronicle Publ'g Co. v. City of Houston, 531 S.W.2d 177 (Tex. Civ. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1975), writ ref'd n.r.e. per curiam, 536 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. 1976); Open Records Decision No. 127 (1976). Thus, you must release the type of information that is considered to be front page offense report information, even if this information is not actually located on the front page of the offense report. Although section 552.108(a)(1) authorizes you to withhold the remaining information from disclosure, you may choose to release all or part of the information at issue that is not otherwise confidential by law. See Gov't Code 552.007.

Because we are able to resolve this matter under section 552.108, we do not address your section 552.103 claim. We are resolving this matter with an informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and should not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.

Yours very truly,

Karen E. Hattaway
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

KEH/ch

Ref: ID# 121773

Enclosures: Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Dennis Van Meter
AIG Claims Services, Inc.
1401 50th Street, Bldg. 2, Ste. 200
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
(w/o enclosures)

Mr. Donald M. Pinnock
Will Ferguson & Associates
P.O. Box 2007
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103
(w/o enclosures)


 

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