How to Research License Plates

By Drew Woods

Let's say you need to locate someone for a particular reason, and the only information you have is a car or truck license plate number. Maybe the person owes you money, committed a crime, or was involved in a hit-and-run accident. There are a few ways that you can track him or her down. It must be noted that, unless you have a friend at the police station that can get you this information, it will cost you some money.

First check and make sure that you have a legitimate reason for needing to conduct a search on the license plate. Researching a license plate must comply with the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). Unless you are a member of a governmental agency, an insurer, an employer, or a licensed private investigator, it is only permissible to research a license plate for uses related to matters of motor vehicle or driver safety and theft.

File a request with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. After proving you have a legit reason for needing this information, you will need to fill out a form stating that your need fits the law and pay a small fee.

Check an online database such as Abika or BestPeopleSearch. Unfortunately, services such as these are not free so be prepared to pay a fee. Once you have access to a database, simply enter the license plate number and the online database will display any stored information about the vehicle and its owner.

Hire a private investigator. Although these investigators also charge fees, they have access to a number of resources that can help research the license plate number and promptly get the information back to you. Check online or in your phone book's Yellow Pages to locate a private investigator in your area.

About the Author

Drew Woods is a native of Milwaukee, Wis. who has written articles for the international basketball website USbasket. He holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Bethel University and has been writing professionally for various websites since 2009.

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