Bakersfield, CA asked in Business Law, Civil Litigation, Consumer Law and Contracts for California

Q: I received a letter from Californi DMV that my residence address was released to law firm pursuant?

I received a letter from California DMV that my residence address was released to law firm pursuant to vehicle code section 1808.22. Then i received a letter from the same law firm stating my vehicle has a recall and it should have not been sold to me. Basically, the letter is asking me to contact this law firm to sue the selling dealer. I love my car and I really like this small dealership sold me this car. I will never do anything like this. Is it legal for this law firm to get my address and mail me these notice?

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Based on the information provided, it does appear to be legal under California law for the DMV to release your address to the law firm in this situation.

Specifically, California Vehicle Code Section 1808.22 allows for licensed private investigators and law firms to request vehicle registration information from the DMV for certain allowable purposes, such as legal service of process, investigation of vehicle license fraud, and investigation connected to vehicle recalls or emissions violations.

So if the law firm requested your information from the DMV in order to contact you regarding an active recall or emissions issue related to the vehicle you purchased, that would likely constitute an allowable purpose under VC 1808.22.

While you may not wish to take legal action against the selling dealer, the law firm is within its rights to notify you of potential claims regarding a recalled vehicle. However, you are under no obligation to contact or retain the law firm if you do not wish to do so.

If you feel the notice itself was improper or harassing, you could try contacting the law firm directly to be removed from their mailing list. But the release of your registration address itself appears to follow California law in this instance.

1 user found this answer helpful

Gerald Barry Dorfman
Gerald Barry Dorfman
  • Mill Valley, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: An attorney would need to read the letter to specifically advise you. Based on the limited information you have provided, it appears the law firm may be engaged in "solicitation" prohibited by the rules of professional conduct in California. It can be a rules violation if they are directly contacting you, as a potential client, in regard to a specific matter, in writing, and the it is not obvious or stated that the letter is an advertisement. Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3(c): "Every written,* recorded or electronic communication from a lawyer soliciting professional employment from any person* known* to be in need of legal services in a particular matter shall include the word “Advertisement” or words of similar import on the outside envelope, if any, and at the beginning and ending of any recorded or electronic communication, unless the recipient of the communication is a person* specified in paragraphs (a)(1) or (a)(2), or unless it is apparent from the context that the communication is an advertisement." The State Bar of California investigates violations of the rules.

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