How to find a vehicle's registered owner using a license plate number

Updated March 21, 2017

If you're in an accident or find yourself the victim of a hit and run, you can learn the identity of the owner of the other vehicle using his license place. While the law protects the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) records and, in most states, doesn't consider such information part of public records, you have several options when faced with this situation. You may have to try all of them before you find one that works for you and is available in your state.

Record the driver's number plate number and verify that you've written all digits and letters correctly and in the correct order. Verify that the vehicle has a registration sticker, and note the state where the vehicle is registered.

Use a number plate number search system (see Resources) to find a vehicle's registered owner using a number plate number. Additional information, including the lien holder (if any) and the VIN, may also be provided.

Visit a DMV branch office. If you're in an accident and the other motorist flees the scene, contact the DMV with the number plate number and request the name of the registered owner. The DMV cannot release the address or phone number of the owner, and some states, such as California, cannot release the name, only the VIN.

Hire a private investigator to search DMV records. In some states, only an investigator can access these records to find the registered owner of a vehicle.

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About the Author

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.