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December 21, 2000

Mr. Joe F. Grubbs
Ellis County and District Attorney
Temporary Administration Building
1201 North Highway 77, Suite B
Waxahachie, Texas 75165-5140

OR2000-4814

Dear Mr. Grubbs:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 142513.

The Ellis County Sheriff's Department (the "sheriff") received a request for information pertaining to 9-1-1 calls concerning a traffic accident. You believe that some of the requested information may be confidential under section 552.101 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you raise and have reviewed the information you submitted.

Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Thus, section 552.101 protects information that is encompassed by statutory confidentiality provisions. You believe that originating telephone numbers and addresses for 9-1-1 calls may be confidential under section 772.318 of the Health and Safety Code. Chapter 772 of the Health and Safety Code authorizes the development of local emergency communications districts. Sections 772.118, 772.218, and 772.318 of the Health and Safety Code apply only to an emergency 9-1-1 district established in accordance with chapter 772. See Open Records Decision No. 649 (1996). These statutes make the originating telephone numbers and addresses of 9-1-1 callers that are furnished by a service supplier confidential. Id. at 2. Section 772.118 applies to an emergency communication district for a county with a population of more than two million. Section 772.218 applies to an emergency communication district for a county with a population of more than 860,000. Section 772.318 applies to an emergency communication district for a county with a population of more than 20,000. Assuming that Ellis County is included in an emergency communications district that is subject to section 772.318 of the Health and Safety Code and that the information in question was furnished by a 9-1-1 service supplier, we have marked information that the sheriff must withhold in releasing the documents and audiotapes under section 772.318.

We also note that the submitted information contains what appear to be two Texas driver's license numbers. Section 552.130 of the Government Code provides in relevant part:

(a) Information is excepted from [required public disclosure] if the information relates to:

(1) a motor vehicle operator's or driver's license or permit issued by an agency of this state;

(2) a motor vehicle title or registration issued by an agency of this state; or

(3) a personal identification document issued by an agency of this state or a local agency authorized to issue an identification document.

Gov't Code 552.130(a). In releasing the requested information, the sheriff also must withhold Texas driver's license numbers in accordance with section 552.130.

This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.

This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. 552.321(a).

If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. 552.3215(e).

If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408,411 (Tex. App.--Austin 1992, no writ).

Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to Hadassah Schloss at the General Services Commission at 512/475-2497.

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.

Sincerely,


James W. Morris, III
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

JWM/er

Ref: ID# 142513

Encl: Submitted documents & audio tape

cc: Mr. Kyle Horton
403 Mara Lane
Red Oak, Texas 75154
(w/o enclosures)


 

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