How do I Search for Automobile License Plate Identification in Illinois?

By Teo Spengler - Updated April 21, 2017
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If you have a legitimate reason to track down the owner of a car under the Driver Privacy Protection Act, you can file an Information Request Form with the Secretary of State of Illinois. You can find this form, VSD 354, on the Secretary of State's website.

Illinois Plate Lookup Limitations

The federal Driver Privacy Protection Act (18 U.S.C. sec. 2721 et seq.) has had an impact on license plate lookups in many states, including Illinois. The law prohibits states from disclosing the name, address and other personal information of a car owner without the person's permission.

The law sets up a fairly long list of exceptions of agencies and people to whom states can release personal information and the circumstances in which the information can be released. The exceptions include use by governmental agencies, matters of motor vehicle or driver safety and theft, and the use of the information in a court action or even in anticipation of litigation.

Illinois License Plate Search

Illinois tracks down the owner of a car by essentially running a license plate search for you. That is, you provide a license number, and the state provides title or registration information, such as the owner's name and information. However, you must affirm that your reason for seeking the information is permissible under the Driver Privacy Protection Act.

The form is called VSD 375. You can find it on the Secretary of State's website. Be aware, however, that the website isn't called "Illinois Secretary of State.com" or anything you might expect. The website's name is CyberDriveIllinois.com.

From the website home page, click on the "Publications/Forms" tab on the top of the page, then on "Motorist," followed by "Title and Registration." The form is called "Secretary of State Information Request Form, VSD 375."

Secretary of State Information Request Form VSD 375

Download and open VSD 375, and then print and complete it. Enter your name and address, then pick the search you want: title, registration, certified title or certified registration. Each has a different fee, ranging from $5 to $10. Enter credit card information to pay the fee.

In the next section, provide whatever information you have about the vehicle or driver. If all you have is the license number, fill it in. You can also put in the VIN, the year and make of the car and/or the owner of the vehicle.

Finally, you must state the exception to the Driver Privacy Protection Act under which your request falls. You also must give the reason you want the information. When finished, send the application to: Secretary of State, Record Inquiry Section, 501 S. Second St., Rm. 408, Springfield, IL 62756-8888.

About the Author

Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.

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