Reverse License Plate Lookup – Can You Find an Owner by the License Plate?

If another car is parked in your parking space, you would feel irritated. However, the owner or driver of the car is not there, so how can you find who owns that car? Reverse license plate lookup – can you find an owner by the licenses plate?

If you will perform a reverse license plate lookup, it is possible to get some information about the vehicle with that license plate. You can retrieve this data in a database of vehicle records. You will be able to get important information regarding the VIN of the vehicle, the vehicle itself, and its owner.

But be aware that conducting a lookup of a driver’s license plate number for whatever purpose entails some expenses and is illegal. Only authorized law enforcement personnel can run license plate numbers. They have the tools to do it quickly and without any obstructions.

Read on to learn more about running a reverse license plate lookup, how it is usually done, and the legal reasons that can allow you to do it.

Reverse License Plate Lookup

reverse license plate lookup

Requirements for a Reverse License Plate Lookup

You should have the complete license plate number if you do a reverse license plate lookup. Plus, you should know where the owner registered the car. You can retrieve this from the database of vehicle records. It will reveal the key information of the vehicle, its owner, and its VIN.

Illegal to Run a Search Using a Vehicle’s License Plate Number

However, you need to be aware that running a search using the vehicle’s license plate number for whatever purpose entails some costs, and it is also illegal. Only law enforcement officers can run the said search. They also have the tools to do it easily and quickly.

Utilize DMV’s Official Website

It is also possible for you to know the vehicle owner just by using the license plate if you do an online check with the Department of Motor Vehicles’ official website. To do this, go to the DMV official website of the state indicated on the license plate.

Once you are on the right DMV page, type in the license plate on the search bar. It is possible to get the vehicle’s date of registration and the year and model of the vehicle.

If you consider the design and function of vehicle license plates, you will see that they are part of public records. Most DMV agencies in most states offer a certain online system where the public can perform inquiries on license plates.

Can You Find Owner of Car by License Plate

Driver’s Protection Act

The particular law that regulates the obtaining of information from reverse license plate lookup is the Driver’s Protection Act. This law has been active since it was passed in 1994. So, can you find an owner by the license plate?

DMV Cannot Release a Vehicle Owner’s Information

The simple answer is that it doesn’t allow the DMV to release information that can personally identify registered vehicle owners tied in with license plate numbers – except for purposes they approve.

Requires a Valid Reason

This law also makes obtaining the driver’s info illegal through false misrepresentation. This law also provides civil penalties if you violate it. But if your state’s Driver’s Privacy Protection Act laws allow it, you could get the driver’s information if you have a valid reason.

Go to DMV or Hire a Private Investigator

One other option you have is going directly to the DMV. Or you can hire a private investigator to do the sleuthing for you.

Reasons Approved by DMV for Reverse License Plate Lookup

reverse license plate lookup owner

Before the DMV grants your request for the driver’s information, you must present evidence that you have a legitimate reason for such a request. What are the acceptable reasons that the DMV will approve?

1. To Report an Accident

If you figured in an accident with another vehicle and the other driver just ran away, you can request a reverse license plate number search. This is essential for filing the police report of the accident. Or, if you accidentally hit another vehicle while parking, you can request the DMV to give you the key information about the vehicle owner by just its license plate.

2. For Towing Purposes

If you are an employee of a towing company and need to tow an illegally parked car somewhere, you can go to the DMV and request a reverse license plate scan. This is the only way you can inform the vehicle owner that you have their car on your holding premises because of illegal parking or for whatever illegal acts they have committed.

3. Report Unsafe Driving

If you witness a bad or unsafe driving incident, you must report it. The driver could be drunk, and that is a public safety concern. You should write down the offending vehicle’s license plate and report it to the local authorities.

The local police will have their system of reverse checking the license plate, or they may ask the local DMV to do it. In any case, they will be able to apprehend this unsafe driver and give them what they deserve.

Again, can you do a reverse license lookup? Running a driver’s license plate is illegal, and only law enforcement officers can do this legally. Plus, they have the tools to do a reverse license lookup quickly.

4. Court Proceeding Requirement

Suppose you’re a party in civil court litigation involving a certain vehicle. In that case, you have a legitimate reason to request a reverse license plate lookup with the DMV in the area where the incident happened. You need to do this, especially if you make a lien or a claim against the offending vehicle.

5. Work Requirement

Suppose you are working in a company that verifies sundry information about commercial vehicles, and your employer assigns you to conduct a search involving license plates. In that case, you have a valid reason to ask the DMV to supply you with the information you need.

For instance, if you are doing market research or a survey of car owners, you can ask the help of DMV to supply the information that you need to complete your survey or research.

6. Law Enforcement

If the purpose of your search is due to car theft or car safety, the DMV will approve your request for a reverse license plate lookup.

7. Other Approved Reasons

DMV allows other reasons as long as they are in line and provided by federal or state law. These include requests following the Automobile Information Disclosure Act and Clean Air Act.

Reverse License Plate Search Allowed by the DMV

If your request falls under one of these legal guidelines, DMV will most likely approve your request for a search:

  • Clean Air Act
  • National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1996
  • Automobile Information Disclosure Act
  • Anti-Car Theft Act of 1992
  • Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Saving Act

Running a Reverse License Plate Lookup

can you reverse lookup a license plate
VIN

There are two ways you can conduct a reverse license plate lookup, by asking the DMV or equivalent organization or online:

Through the Department of Motor Vehicles

If you think you have a valid reason for it, you can request the DMV in your state to conduct the reverse license plate search. Just give them the license plate number of the vehicle. Of course, they will ask you why. So, be prepared to justify your purpose. Also, DMV will charge a nominal fee upon request approval.

Online Search

Some companies offer reverse license plate searches. You only need to give them the vehicle’s license plate number that you want to look up. But be aware that the information you will get is only publicly available information about the vehicle.

Some of these companies offer this service for free, while others charge a fee. In addition, the information you can get from these online searches will vary from company to company.

Steps

Here’s the usual process you will undergo if you choose this option:

  • Open your favorite web browser.
  • Conduct a Google search or if you know the URL of the website, type it in the search bar.
  • Once you are on their page, there should be a search bar where you can type in the license plate number of the vehicle you want to look up. Type it in. Don’t forget to input the state indicated in the plate.
  • The next page will show you the search results. If you want more information you can choose to pay to get those additional data.
  • View the additional information if you have paid for it.
  • There are sites that allow you to upload videos, photos, and additional information about the vehicle in question that can enhance the accuracy of the search results.

Tip

If you can find the VIN of the vehicle, you could use that number to search for information about the vehicle, perhaps even the name of its owner. You will see the VIN of the vehicle if you can see it through the dashboard, just right above the car’s hood. If you have the license plate number and the VIN of the vehicle, your reverse search will be more fruitful.

Conclusion: Reverse License Plate Lookup

Conducting a reverse license plate lookup will give you certain information about the vehicle with that license plate. You can retrieve the information in a database of vehicle records. This could reveal certain information about the vehicle, its VIN, and its owner.

However, you should know that running a license plate lookup is usually reserved for law enforcement agents. When they conduct a reverse license plate lookup, they use certain tools to help them do it quickly with no obstructions. Doing entails some cost and is generally illegal for private citizens.

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