Q:

Where can you go to look up a license plate and owner of a car?

A:

Quick Answer

Although there are a number of companies that offer to look up the owner of a vehicle by its license plate number, running a license plate check on someone is illegal in all circumstances, according to the DMV. This is prohibited by the Drivers Privacy Protection Act of 1994.

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Full Answer

The DPPA prohibits state DMVs from releasing or using any personal information obtained from a person's motor vehicle record. The act lays out strict penalties for any violations of this law and also makes the individual who released the information subject to civil legal action from the person whose information was given out. Although the individual responsible for the release receives a fine, the state DMV may also receive a fine of up to $5,000 a day if they are found to continually violate the law.

In 1999, the U.S. Congress passed an amendment to the DPPA, known as Shelby's amendment, which requires state DMVs to obtain a person's written consent before providing any personal information to a third party. This is true whether an individual request was made for that information or it was part of a bulk request for marketing purposes. However, the DPPA does allow motor vehicle records to be released under specific circumstances.

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