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Licensed Investigators | Collections & Investigations

Are Reverse License Plate Lookups Legal?


A reverse license plate lookup can be one way to learn more about someone. However, many people don’t know whether a reverse license plate lookup is legal to do or what type of information they can get from one. Here’s everything you need to know about the legality and process of a reverse license plate lookup.

The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994

The main thing that regulates reverse license plate lookups is the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994, or the DPPA. The DPPA regulates how people can gather personal information stored by individual state DMVs and ensures that only certain people are allowed to gather the information that DMVs store and provide to individuals.

There are some legitimate reasons that someone may be able to get personal information through a license plate, and these are laid out in the DPPA. For example, insurance companies, government agencies, and lawyers may all be able to get information from a license plate number. However, these people will need to go through an official government organization.

Your Legal Rights and Regulations

While there are restrictions on the information you can find through a license plate lookup, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily illegal to perform that kind of lookup. The key is whether you’re pretending to be someone with a legitimate reason for finding personal information in order to gain access to the information you wouldn’t usually be allowed to have.

For example, if you
falsely claim that you’re a member of a licensed private investigation agency to gain access to information about someone through the DMV, that is expressly illegal and you could face charges over it. However, if you just represent yourself as yourself and try to find as much information as you legally can, you may simply run into roadblocks in terms of how much information you can get.

Information You Can Get From a License Plate Lookup

The information available from a license plate lookup varies significantly depending on the state. In many states, you can only get the make, model, and year of a vehicle through a license plate lookup. In some states, you may also be able to get the vehicle’s title information, which may include liens currently held on the vehicle.

Generally, the information you can get from a license plate lookup is very slim. It may be helpful in some cases, but the only people with access to full information like name, address and date of birth are officials that have a legitimate reason for it.

Other Ways To Look Up People’s Information

The good news is that a license plate is not the only way to look up someone’s information. There are other methods of gathering information about someone, including public record search engines. If you’re looking to gather information on someone and license plate information isn’t helping, you may want to turn instead to Enformion.

You only need nominal information such as a
phone number or a full name to gather information about someone through Enformion. Once you have that information, you can perform a search and get the rest of the information, which may include a physical address, social media presences, email addresses, and more. This is the best way to look up someone’s information, as a license plate may not provide you with the results you were looking for.

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