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Can You Find a Vehicle Owner by License Plate?

Posting a picture of someone’s license plates online may get you in hot water, but can you really find a vehicle’s owner by their license plate?

Or, if someone cut you off on the highway, is there a way to track them down?

And, is it that big of a deal? Could someone actually steal your identity if you post your license plates online? Today we’re going to see if you can even find a vehicle’s owner by their license plate.

Let’s get started!

Can You Find Vehicle Owner by License Plate?

Yes, it’s possible to find a vehicle’s owner by their license plate.

However, it may be harder than you think if you don’t have a good reason to access the information. Law enforcement will assist you with getting the information if you’re involved in a hit and run accident and file a police report.

Seeing a picture or video of someone’s car and wanting to track them down isn’t reason enough to get you access to the information. It may get you a restraining order instead.

Can You Find Vehicle Owner by VIN Number?

Yes, it’s possible to find a vehicle’s owner by using the VIN. Much like searching by license plate, you’ll need a reason, like a crime, to access personal information.

You can access information regarding the vehicle to verify its integrity. This is especially useful if you’re buying a used car. If a crime has been committed or a vehicle was abandoned, law enforcement will often assist you with finding that out.

Woman standing with red car.
It is possible to find an owner from a license plate number, but generally requires a legal reason to research.

How to Find a Vehicle Owner

If you need to find a vehicle owner, there are a few ways to accomplish this. Let’s take a look and see which might be your best option.

Use Online Databases

There are online databases that will assist you with locating publicly available information. Many of these resources aren’t cheap and don’t guarantee their results. You might get lucky with one of these resources, but the results can be flakey. 

California license plate.
Online databased provide a search tool, but they are generally not free.

Head to the DMV

If you have a legitimate reason for needing to access the information, the DMV will help you. While they’ll be willing to help you, they’re not going to do it for free.

You’ll likely have to sign several forms that affirm you’re not up to anything nefarious and also pay whatever fees they charge.

Things get trickier if the license plates are from a different state. You may have to reach out to the DMV in a different state. You also might have to mail in documents or apply online. 

Contact the Authorities

If there’s a law broken or a public safety issue, you can reach out to the local authorities.

They may help with information to rectify the situation. They have more resources to help you track down the vehicle owner and assist in a legal situation. The police may not give you the information directly, but they can ensure it reaches the correct individuals.

Pro Tip: Should you find yourself in a situation where someone else causes damage to your vehicle, having a dashcam installed will help capture a license plate to give to the authorities. Read more about how a Man Throwing Rocks At RV Was Caught On Dashcam and find out what dashcam you should buy.

Woman talking to a police officer with car.
Contacting the authorities will be the most useful tool when looking up a license plate number for legal information.

Yes, it’s perfectly legal to look up car owners by plate number. There are only issues if you use the information improperly. You couldn’t use the information to stalk or harass someone, for example.

You also can’t use it for a background check, to screen tenants, or to determine eligibility for mortgages, credit checks, or insurance.

Reasons to Lookup Vehicle Owner by Number Plate

There are a few logical reasons you might need to look up a vehicle’s owner by the plate number. Let’s take a look!

Hit and Run Accidents

Did you know there’s more than one hit-and-run accident every minute? If you’re involved in a hit-and-run, you may get lucky and catch the offender’s license plates. Having the plate number can help with getting your vehicle fixed.

If you can get the license plate number, law enforcement will likely take care of it from there. They’ll likely use the plate information to track down the other individual involved in the incident.

You may not ever get any of the information, as it could go directly to your insurance company.

Crashed car from hit and run.
Hit and run accidents, strange driver behavior, or used car purchases are reasons to look up a license plate.

Strange Behavior

If someone’s acting weird, having their license plate number can help with tracking them down. Whether it’s racing down the road in front of your house or ignoring stop signs, getting a license plate number can help you identify the owner of the vehicle.

Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car involves a lot of trust, but having the license plate number can help confirm you’re buying the vehicle from the owner. You don’t want to find out that the person selling the car isn’t the owner. 

Pro Tip: Considering buying a used RV? Don’t over pay. Here is How to Determine the Value of Used RVs.

5 Secrets About License Plates

Vehicle ownership: License plates can be used to identify the owner of a vehicle, which can provide information about the individual’s address, phone number, and other personal details.

Vehicle history: License plates can also be used to track the history of a vehicle, including any accidents or traffic violations it may have been involved in.

Law enforcement tracking: Law enforcement agencies may use license plate recognition technology to track vehicles and individuals for various reasons, such as locating stolen vehicles, tracking suspects in criminal investigations, or monitoring traffic for safety purposes.

Toll road tracking: Some toll roads use electronic toll collection systems that use license plate recognition technology to automatically charge tolls to a driver’s account. This can be a convenient way to pay tolls, but it also means that your vehicle’s location and travel history may be tracked and recorded.

Marketing and advertising: Some companies may use license plate information for marketing and advertising purposes. For example, a company could track the license plates of vehicles that pass by its billboard ads to measure the effectiveness of its advertising campaigns.

Finding the Vehicle Owner By a License Plate Isn’t All That Easy

While you’ll often see license plates blurred out in pictures, it’s not as easy as you’d think to find personal information that way.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions to protect your private information, but a picture of your license plate isn’t likely to result in a stolen identity. Have you ever blurred out your license plates in a picture you’ve posted online?

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