Can I Run a License Plate Number for Free?

License Plate
Getty Images/Zave Smith

Did you just witness a terrible driver doing something illegal? Are you trying to get some background information on someone dating your daughter? There are lots of reasons to trigger the idea of running someone's license plate number to get more information on a person, but can you really run a license plate for free?

Unfortunately, running a driver's license plate number for any reason or purpose is illegal.

Do not do it. Even if you do come across some website offering to run plate numbers it is most likely a rip off. If you do witness a driver doing something illegal, do write down the plate number, and do call the police. Only law enforcement can run license plate numbers. Remember to use some discretion with this method. You probably do not want to call law enforcement because someone forgot to turn on their blinker.

What Info Will A Police Officer See When Running License Plate Numbers?

In many large cities, police cruisers are setup with high tech cameras which can scan hundreds of plates a minute. Some police officers do not have the ability to run a licence plate from their patrol car and must call the number into dispatch. So what information is available to a police officer when they run a license plate number? All information associated with a license plate number only applies to the person the vehicle is registered to.

  • Name of Vehicle Owner
  • Address of Vehicle Owner
  • Whether the Plate was Stolen
  • Whether the Vehicle is Listed as Stolen
  • If the Plate Matches the Vehicle it is on
  • In Some States Police Can Check for Valid Car Insurance


How Does a Police Officer Get Information on a Driver?

A driver's license is the most effective way for an officer to get information on a driver.

If a driver's license is not available, a person's social security number can be used. Driver does not know that info either? Name and birth date will suffice, however it will appear as though the driver is trying to conceal their identity. Beyond the information that appears on a driver's license after running a license the officer will be able to see warrants for arrest and driving history.

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