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How to Search License Plate Numbers

With the current state of American society, especially in the larger cities, towns, and suburban neighborhoods, people are becoming more aware of their surroundings and are often seeking better tools and better methods for keeping themselves, families, friends, and possessions safe.  Locks on the doors and windows, safety alarms and monitoring, and even watch dogs do not cover everything.  The suspicious car or van or truck seemingly to be repeatedly going down a street with many children, or in a heavy small shops area can catch a person’s awareness, and that person perceives a possible threat.  Maybe something more typical, like getting side swiped or hit by a car, and the driver takes off.  What can a person do?  Experts say to get the license plate.  Even a partial plate and the make, model, and color of the vehicle will be a help.  What do the experts recommend to do with the license plate number?  They have several good ideas:

  • Call the police
  • Call the local DMV
  • Search online personally
  • Try “googling” the license plate number directly
  • Engage a private detective

Unfortunately, the last option will cost money, but if the situation warrants, it’s an option to have.  The “googling” is a wild try, but as anyone who does a lot of online searching knows one will be amazed at the information that can be found on the Internet.  The worst that can happen is that no usable information will be found.  If one does not try, one will never have that success.  The online search will be difficult and likely cost money as there are literally no online files that carry worthwhile license plate number information unless one is willing to pay.  The first two options are one’s best chances of getting the threat minimized as both the police and DMV are accountable to the community for keeping all members of the community safe and both entities, especially the police, will investigate a perceived yet reasonable threat or concern.  The DMV might even involve the police, local and state, if the evidence shows reasonable cause for concern.

One strong recommendation made by many experts was to not confront the potential threat personally or directly unless an act against another person is occurring and that person needs immediate help.  Even then, a call to the police is as necessary, and maybe safer, or maybe better.  As long as the threat is only a potential one and not an actual one, again the police especially or the DMV are the ones trained to take on the threat and contain any possible fallout.  The worst thing that can happen is to endanger one’s self when there is no need to do so and taking an action that was unwarranted or unnecessary, even to the point of having one’s self being arrested for violating someone else’s rights.

 Regardless of the situation if it is possible to do so if the situation involves a vehicle it is best to get the license plate number and if possible the make, model, and color of the vehicle. Then call the police.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.