Why Would the Police Want to Look up a License Plate?


Quick Answer

Police officers look up license plate numbers to identify vehicles of suspected law breakers, track stolen cars and to collect on unpaid parking tickets. In an eight-hour patrol shift, license plate readers are capable of logging thousands of license plate numbers.

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Why Would the Police Want to Look up a License Plate?
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Full Answer

License plate numbers are unique to each vehicle. With a license plate number, police officers can obtain name and address records from the Department of Motor Vehicles, which are used to check for warrants on a driver's arrest.

As of February 2014, Homeland Security is urging for a national license plate tracking system that would be used to catch illegal fugitive immigrants. Such a system would also cut down the time it takes to conduct surveillance. There is a huge potential for abuse of the collection and storage of this kind of information, and some states are declaring this data collection illegal. The proposed database would be a file that includes the vehicle's make and model, maps and registration information, a close up image of the license plate and a zoomed-out image of the vehicle.

Repossession companies scan license plates at night so they can send in a tow truck to collect the car. Having access to such a database potentially triples the number of cars that are repossessed a night.

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