Assembly Members Look To Stop Private Advertising By DMV

Insertion of advertisements in DMV envelopes is construed as a state endorsement
June 13, 2007
Recently eighteen members of the New York State Assembly sent a letter to Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner David Swarts regarding the insertion of business advertisements in their mailings for registration renewal notices. Members of the Hudson Valley Assembly delegation joined Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R,I,C-Willsboro) in calling for the immediate repeal of this practice. Signing the letter were Assembly members Annie Rabbitt (R,I,C-Greenwood Lake), Tom Kirwan (R,I,C-Newburgh), Peter Lopez (R,C,I-Schoharie) and Marc Molinaro (R,I,C-Tivoli).

"The simple truth is that these mailings can be misleading while they create a large advantage for those who can afford to buy the advertising," stated Sayward. "We should be working to promote small business, which is the backbone of our economy."

“An advertisement accompanying an official DMV document sent to thousands of New York residents is easily construed as the state endorsing a particular company,” said Rabbitt. “Even worse, the ad inserts being sent by these large companies, like GEICO or State Farm, relate directly to the nature of the document being sent by DMV, giving them a distinct advantage over smaller companies that are trying to compete for customers.”

“How ludicrous is it that a state agency is in such a need for money that it must sell out to the highest bidder and jam advertisements down the throats of every person in need of renewing their registration? We are here to govern not to cater to large corporations and help their CEOs make bigger profits,” said Kirwan.

"Small businesses in New York are already struggling, and I feel that this practice gives bigger businesses an unfair advantage," said Lopez. "Most small businesses cannot afford, and do not even know how to take advantage of the DMV's advertising program, and this is going to further burden the small business sector in New York state."

“We understand why the DMV implemented this policy; we applaud their efforts to decrease production and mailing costs. However, the State of New York should not be allowed to endorse businesses and should definitely not be providing a venue of marketing for a profit. Commissioner Swarts should rescind this practice immediately,” said Molinaro.

Sayward notes that the DMV has not yet responded to this bi-partisan letter but she expects they will shortly. Several lawmakers, including Sayward, Rabbitt and Molinaro, are examining possible legislation to prevent this practice from continuing.