License Plate Search Review
Public Records for License Plates Lookup
A license plate number is a unique number that is given to each vehicle. The Department of Motor Vehicles in each state registers vehicles and allots them the license plate number. This license plate is displayed on the front and rear of vehicles to identify them. The format of the number, logo, and color scheme vary from state to state.
But the license plate is not just a number to identify the vehicle. It can also tell you a lot about the owner of that vehicle, if you do a search based on the license plate number.
Why do a License Plate Search?
People do license plate searches for a variety of reasons. If you are planning to buy a car then it would be very useful to do this search to get the complete history of the car in question. Sellers do not always tell the truth so this is a foolproof way to make sure you have the right information before you make a decision. You can go through the search and decide whether you still want to buy this particular car or not. This is a good route to go if for some reason you don't have access to the VIN number.
A license plate lookup can also be useful if you see someone give your car a minor ding in a parking lot or on the street, and want to contact them without involving the local police.
If your children are riding with someone you don't know very well, like another parent from school or a teacher, you might want to double-check that they are driving a safe car.
How to do a License Plate Search?
There are a number of websites that give you a variety of information when you use their search option. Much of this data comes from motor vehicle departments, from insurance companies, or from service stations. Websites use a wide variety of sources in their license plate search system, including federal motor vehicle databases.
Some information is given for free and other is given against payment.
The basic information you can get when you do a license plate search includes:
- Registration details – vehicle type, make, model, year
- The market value of the vehicle
- The fuel efficiency of the vehicle
- Warranty-related details of the vehicle
- Title history and brand history of the vehicle that will provide you details on whether the vehicle has been stolen in the past.
- The odometer reading
- The salvage history – this is important as it tells you details of any damage of the vehicle, or if the vehicle was wrecked.
- Details of an accident the vehicle was involved in
- Whether any damage was caused by factors like the flood
- The safety rating of the vehicle
- Details of warranty and any recall
These are the free details that you will get on websites, obtained from publicly available information. Yet, this does not provide you with details about the owner. If you also wish to find data about the owner of the car, these websites would stop being free and would charge you a fee.
The additional details that can be found out from a license plate search are:
- First and last name of the license plate owner
- Address of the vehicle owner and mobile phone number
- Previous address of the vehicle owner
- Criminal records of the vehicle owner
- Arrest records of the owner
- Civil records of the vehicle owner
- Property records of the vehicle owner
- Family history of the vehicle owner
- Court records of judgments involving the vehicle owner
- Military records
- Marriage records
- Bankruptcy records
- Voter records
All the above information is not publicly available. However, most websites have technology that helps them to search on the internet and on various databases to find the above information. This information would be useful if you are searching for details of a person. Because this information is not publicly available or has to be obtained by doing an extensive search on the internet, the websites that provide this information would charge for it. Most such websites would have a premium membership, and one would need to pay to become a member and access the data.
Is a License Plate Search Legal?
A license plate lookup is absolutely legal. Various laws of the United States, including the Freedom of Information Act give people the right to access data collected by the government. This data falls under public records because the people and equipment used to collect and record it are paid for with your taxes. Since you paid for the data to be created, the government feels that you own it and should be able to access it.
Beyond that, the government has an interest in cutting down on used car fraud and auto theft. For that reason, they want you to be able to access this information.