For What Purposes Does the DMV Look up a License Plate?


Quick Answer

The DMV mainly looks up a license plate to check the availability of a license plate number or to aid in an ongoing traffic court case. Online license plate lookup is available in some states to help locals find license plate numbers for their custom plates. If the license plate lookup is meant to obtain information about the car owner, the DMV keeps current registration records protected and only releases information if a formal request is approved.

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Full Answer

State laws define the information that the DMV can release to the public. In some states, it may not be possible to obtain any type of car or driver information from the DMV. To find out if car and driver information is considered public in the local jurisdiction, get in touch with the local state DMV by calling its office or visiting its website.

Some state DMVs allow a formal records request to be filed online or by phone. However, most states require the submission of a physical document. In general, these formal request forms can be obtained from state government offices and websites. Such requests may carry fees.

Waiting time and delivery method of the results of a request vary by jurisdiction. Some states forward the documents to the person who filed the request, while others send a link where the information can be viewed. Some require the individual to visit a government office to view the documents and pay a fee to obtain a copy.

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