License plates exist as a way of tracking vehicles and making it easier to find out who a car belongs to. Under most circumstances, the only people with access to license plate information are the police. But are there ways an average person, such as yourself, can look up a license plate number in the state of Florida?
3 Legal Ways to Look Up a License Plate in Florida
There are plenty of reasons why someone might run a license plate number. Perhaps they saw a vehicle engage in illegal activity and want to report them. Or maybe a suspicious vehicle has been parked near their property and they want to find out more. The license plate is often the identifying factor that people remember in certain situations and it can be helpful to know what options you have for running a plate, specifically in the state of Florida.
1. Contact Law Enforcement
Police officers and other law enforcement agents can run license plates as often as they want. In fact, it’s fairly common for an officer to run the license plate number of the vehicle in front of them when at a traffic stop or sitting in a parking lot. The police department in your jurisdiction has the software and system to quickly and efficiently run a search. Many even have scanners that automatically take a picture of a plate and run a search.
Technically, law enforcement can run a search for you. The problem is that they’re only going to run a search after they can confirm you have a valid reason – i.e. some sort of report is filed. This can take time and is rarely the most efficient method
2. Hire a Certified Company
The second option is to hire a certified company to handle the search for you. This is actually the easiest and fastest method, but you have to proceed with caution. As WebScams.org points out, more than 95 percent of all license plate lookup sites are scams. They’ll either give you inaccurate, incomplete information – or they’ll simply steal your money and provide nothing in return.
Thankfully, there are some legitimate websites out there that provide Florida license plate lookup services. Using a site like this, you can run a plate for $39 and Norton Security backs it. (It’s actually the site a lot of investigators use for quick results.) All you need to provide is the Florida license plate number or VIN number. Within the same business day, you’ll get the owner’s name and address, vehicle information, and lienholder information (if applicable).
There are a few other legitimate companies out there, but really do your due diligence before forking over any money. Websites will pop up over night, make a few thousand bucks, and then disappear. You don’t want to get caught in a scam.
3. Hire a Private Detective
The third option is to hire a private detective. Under the Driver Privacy Protection Act, certified private detectives are legally allowed to access motor vehicle, driver license, and vehicular crash record information.
The process of hiring a private detective to run a license plate search will take more time than doing it yourself, but you get the added benefit of other services. Depending on how much you’re willing to pay, a private detective may also conduct surveillance and find out additional information that’s not available in DMV records.
Putting it All Together
At the end of the day, there are three legal options for looking up a license plate number. Take your time and make sure you’re following Florida state laws along the way.