Whether you’ve witnessed a driver doing something illegal or you want the inside scoop on someone dating your ex, you might be wondering how to check someone's license plate to get personal information. Unfortunately, it is illegal in Florida to run a license plate check on someone else, regardless of the circumstances. Only a law enforcement officer has the right to perform a Florida license plate check to get vehicle owner information.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Unless you are a law enforcement officer, it is illegal to carry out a Florida license plate search. However, you may be able to obtain personal information, such as an address, via the Driver License Records Request form.
Florida DMV Records Request
If you come across a website that claims to be able to run plate numbers for free, it’s probably a scam, and the information may not be accurate. It's best to avoid these. However, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DMV) offers a records request service. Driving records are public records in Florida, but you must meet one of the Driver Privacy Protection Act exemptions to get personal information.
On the Florida DMV website, find the Driver License Records Request form, which you can download and print. You can also pick up a form from your local DMV branch office. Complete the form in full, making sure to indicate what information you require. For example, you can ask for a three-year driver history, a seven-year driver history or a complete driver history. You can also request a letter of verification to request personal information, such as the driver’s address.
The fee for driver history ranges from $8 to $10, and the fee for a letter of verification is $2.50 or $3.50 for the certified version. Include a check or money order for the fee, made payable to Division of Motorist Services and send the completed form to Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Division of Motorist Services, 2900 Apalachee Parkway, Room B239, Mail Stop 91, Neil Kirkman Building, Tallahassee, FL 32399.
Driver Privacy Protection Act Exemptions
In order to obtain personal information via the records request form, you must satisfy one of 16 exemptions under the Driver Privacy Protection Act. These exemptions are listed in full on the records request form. For example, personal information may be disclosed in matters of motor vehicle or driver safety and theft; to an employer to verify the personal information submitted by an individual in the course of its business; in research activities and for use in producing statistical reports; or in connection with civil, criminal, administrative or arbitration proceedings.
You may also submit a request for personal information if the individual in question has given you written consent to do so. You should receive a response within two weeks of receipt of your request.
Florida License Plate Search
If you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident or witnessed a serious crime and have the license plate number of the other driver or perpetrator, the best thing to do is contact law enforcement. The police have the tools to run a Florida license plate lookup to get identifying information on the registered owner, such as name and address. The check also reveals whether the plate has been reported as stolen.
Remember, a license plate covers a vehicle and the registered owner, but not any particular driver, so the person driving the vehicle may not be the person whose identifying information comes up during a license plate check. Give the license plate number and any other information about the incident to a law enforcement officer to help in the investigation.
Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.