Last Updated on September 6, 2021
How To Do a License plate lookup & Find Vehicle Owner By License Plate
Are you a victim of a hit and run? Are you trying to get some background information on someone and all you have is their car registration? Looking to make an offer to buy a car you saw in a parking lot or did you observe a crime in action & want to do some DIY investigation? Then a free license plate lookup is just what you need.
This public records guide will give you all the details you need to help you find vehicle owner by license plate free.
I will deep dive into free license plate lookup information & answer a few commonly asked questions before delving into how to find someone with a license plate number free.
Give me a few minutes to address three (3) stumbling blocks that are standing in your way with this type of people search. It’s not all good news but I guarantee you the information below will save you a LOT of time and I will also show you how you can achieve your goal.
Can you find someone by their license plate number?
Yes! you can find someone free of charge but access to such information is highly regulated & is strictly under well defined situations – to the point where it feels impossible. You are only allowed to run such a motor vehicle search for anyone of the reasons stated in the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. § 2721. As well, you can access it as long you are one of the approved entities mentioned later in the article.
This is a law that was passed in 1994 by the federal government to prohibit states from allowing their motor vehicle departments to hand out private owner information in license plate look-ups.
If you are old enough you probably remember the death of actress Rebecca Schaeffer in the hands of a stalker who obtained personal information about her from her license plate number. This is one of the major incidents that prompted the enactment of this law.
So it should make sense to you now why it’s not a walk in the park to legally find registered owner of vehicle free on the internet.
What Do You Get In the Report?
The information that is publicly availed through a license plate number reverse search is mostly about the car. The reports are typically known as vehicle history reports and oftentimes they do not show past or present owners of the car.
This means if you are trying to find people with their license plate number then you probably won’t get their name or contact details from most of these reports. By the way, running the actual search as above is always free but the report is not.
The reality is, you may need to spend a few dollars and hire PI to get hold of quality & up to date information.
This is because as mentioned already, this information is considered private and is availed only to specific authorised groups. These include, government agencies, licensed security services, insurance companies, private investigators like DocuSearch etc.
These are allowed to access the information but even then the reason for sourcing the info must be one permissible in the DPPA. Note that not all states allow for searching of license plates, not even to fully licensed private investigators.
This is the holding statement you will often come across on most of the
sites online just before you are sent to an access page.
License plate lookup sites
I am sure by now you are clear that finding a 100% free people finder to run a free reverse license plate number search that is accurate and reliable is not possible.
Unless you choose to use an illegal website that scrapes people’s information from classifieds and social platforms, in which case you can but that is not what we are about on this site.
So below are some of the legal sites you can try out. Note these are NOT free but they promise to provide a name attached to the license plate)
Tips To find vehicle owner by license plate free
So as you have seen, a free reverse license plate lookup is not as simple as typing a name on a website’s search box and waiting a few seconds to get the results (like in the movies).
Yes there are some ways you can use but (1) they are not free (2) they are not as fast and (3) there are many restrictions around this process.
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
Go to DMVUSA and find the DMV for your state in order to get the name of the person who owns the vehicle. This is an independant sites not endorsed or sponsored by the state agencies or any Motor vehicle departments in the US.
To find the agencies directly simply type in DMV & state name. Almost all of them have websites where you can access all the information you need.
Lodge an insurance claim
One of the ways to do a license plate number lookup is to consider Insurance companies. Insurance companies are one of those allowed to access people’s information by using their number plate. So if it is a case of a hit and run or some other type of accident then you can take the matter to your insurer.
Simply submit an insurance claim and if they accept it they will then trace the person down using the license plate for you. The only challenge is chances are they will not tell you the name of the person once they found him or her but simply ensure that your car is fixed.
Contact the law enforcement agencies
Is it advisable that if you become a victim of a hit and run or witness a crime in action then you should share those number plate details with the police or any law enforcement agency. The law enforcement agencies have access to the databases and can retrieve the information in no time.
Again, you may not be privy to the details but if the matter goes to court then it would become a matter of public record and you would know the details then. See our write up on free public records search for more information. See more supporting articles on license plate owner lookup below.