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Want to Know How Many Priuses Are Registered with the DMV in Marin? That'll Cost You $12K

Request for data opens window into agency's archaic technology systems, but officials say help is on the way.

It's not exactly breaking news, nor the least bit surprising, that the California Department of Motor Vehicles could use some modernization and streamlining. Anyone who has ever stood in line after line at the DMV to get your number, take your test, get your photo taken and pay your fee can attest that the agency lacks efficiency.

But a recent public records request from Patch provided another window into the department's outdated infrastructure. When Toyota announced last month that it was , we reached out to the DMV to see how many Priuses are registered in Marin County. 

That seemingly simple single piece of data proved elusive. An attorney for the agency informed Patch that processing such a request was no simple task, as it involved creating a "file pass" that extracted the data from the agency's current vehicle registration database of approximately 38 million records.

In order to fulfill Patch's request, DMV officials said the agency had to charge Patch $135 per hour for 10 hours ($1,350) to create the extraction program, plus $880 per hour for 10 hours ($8,800) to run the program, plus $.10 for each Prius in Marin identified in the extraction (estimated by Patch at $2,000). Patch would also need to produce vehicle identification numbers (VIN) for each type of Prius in advance of the search.

That's approximately $12,150 for a single piece of data - that is, the number of Toyota Priuses registered in Marin County. We declined to pay the fee.

But a DMV spokesman says help is on the way, as the agency is in the midst of a multi-year modernization project of its information technology systems. It is expected to complete that process in 2013. 

"DMV’s Information Technology Modernization (ITM) project will make it easier for DMV to program these types of requests, and will significantly reduce the cost associated with searches such as the number of Priuses registered in a specific county," DMV spokesman Artemio Armenta said in an email. 

Rico December 05, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Priuses are not Pure Electric Vehicles (PEV's), they are hybrids. So, who cares how many of them are registered in Marin ? Probably plenty. It would be interesting to find out how few PEV's are registered in Marin though !
Kevin Moore December 05, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Come on, you know the police/sheriff just read in the license plate numbers and get the history of the car and owner sent back with minutes. I am sure there is a permanent log of every plate that is run and the officer/deputy must have a good reason why the request was made. Why can't everyone get that same service? Stalkers for one. Car thieves for another. (Want to steal a specific make and model?) I honestly like that you need the VIN number and it is a bit hard to get this information. To a certain degree, it protects our privacy. The only reason the police/sheriff/highway patrol read in the VIN is to verify the plates are not stolen. Swapping plates is easy, swapping VINs is not.
Kevin Moore December 05, 2012 at 08:50 PM
I agree, who cares. Ford is doing a recall now. Going to check out the list of Fords? All I know about Prius cars is there is usually one in front of me when I am driving in Lucas Valley to or from West Marin. No legal passing for miles and the Prius drivers seem to think going up to the 35 mph speed limit will drop the MPG below 40 and destroy the planet. Or pressing firmly on the gas pedal will smash the Faberge egg hidden under it.
Rico December 08, 2012 at 05:20 AM
In Germany, there are some entrepreneurs that have started a service for people driving can (if they see) an attractive person driving and would like to flirt or meet with them, they can pay a fee to get the name and address of the person if they jot down the license plate number. It could be a babe driving their husbands car, or vice versa, and could be dangerous ! That service used to be available from the DMV here in CA. I used it once when someone rear ended me in traffic, and I let her go, but I just wanted to know who she was and where she lived. That service has been unavailable here in CA for at least 10 years, to many famous people were getting stalked.
Bobby December 09, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Welcome to big government.....

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