To look up a Washington D.C. license plate (tag), you can use any one of various public records websites and just enter the tag number into the search bar. However, due to strict DPPA laws, you won't see any personal information for owners. You may only see the car's make, model, and year. With a formal request and proper paperwork, you can get a copy of the full report, which will include the owner's name, home address, phone number, date of birth, social security number, and other details. When requesting, you will have to supply your contact details, and in some cases, will need a signed consent form from the vehicle owner. Washington, D.C. also provides limited proof of identity through motor vehicle records for some purposes.
Washington D.C. has various license plate and vehicle registration regulations. One notable rule is that before you register a vehicle in D.C. you must pay all outstanding tickets, dishonored check(s) fee, delinquent child support payments, or any other debt you owe to the District of Columbia Government.
When you move to Washington D.C., you have 30 days to register your vehicle. When registering a vehicle for the first time, you must visit a DC DMV service location in person. You must also present the title, proof of insurance, and passed inspection. With a new vehicle, you must also have an odometer statement.
Renewals can be processed through the mail or online. You will receive a renewal reminder 60 days before it is due. Last-minute renewals will provide you with a 45-day plate to use until your real one comes in.
Vehicle owners in Washington D.C. must use two license plates (called tags) supplied by the DMV. One must be displayed on the front and one on the rear of the car. Regular plates cost $10, but they also have specialty and other plates available. Temporary plates cost $13, and a transfer is another $7. Special organization plates (associated with a foundation or sponsorship) cost $100. Other tags available are:
Washington D.C. also offers personalized plates for $100. They cost $25 to replace them if lost. Tags may be purchased in person with cash, credit/debit card, money order, or check. However, the DMV warns that you cannot purchase any tags until "All outstanding debts (child support payments, outstanding tickets, and dishonored checks) to the D.C. Government must be satisfied before completing most of your DMV transactions".
Washington D.C. maintains a very strict driver's privacy laws that are consistent with the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). D.C. law allows the dissemination of private driver information for only a few permissible purposes.(D.C. Official Code §50-1401.01b) The Department of Motor Vehicles stated approach to privacy in driver records is "DC DMV collects and uses personal data necessary for the licensing/ identification of D.C. residents and registration of vehicles in accordance with our mission. We also provide data as authorized by law, such as voting, organ donation, selective service, jury duty, and law enforcement requests. Additional authorizations are covered by the Driver Privacy Protection Act".
Additionally, they state "Except as provided in subsections (c), (d) and (e) of this section, the Department of Motor Vehicles ("Department"), the Metropolitan Police Department, and any officer, employee, or contractor affiliated with either department, or any other person or entity shall not knowingly disclose or otherwise make available personal information about an individual obtained by the Department or the Metropolitan Police Department in connection with a motor vehicle record or an accident report".
It is legal to look up a license plate number for basic information, but anyone wanting personal details for the owner must contact the DMV, local police, or have a signed consent form and a good reason for doing so. It is perfectly legal for someone to request their own record at any time.
When requesting license plate records, you will need to supply your information like name, address, phone number, and driver's license number. Additionally, you must supply the reason and prove that you are one of the authorized personnel who can legally obtain records containing personally identifiable information for the driver. In some cases, you will need a signed consent form.
There is a national title registration website where you can use a vehicle's VIN to look up the car or truck to see if it has been in any accidents or has open recalls on it. However, the state of Washington D.C. does not allow the general public to look up vehicles using a VIN. You must provide proof of permissible use and proper documentation when requesting driver and license plate records.
You are not legally allowed to look up the owner of a Washington D.C. vehicle by using a license plate lookup tool unless you have a valid reason. However, you can contact the local police, and the Washington D.C. government website has a towed vehicle locator tool on it to find yours if it has been towed and impounded.
According to the D.C.gov website, Washington D.C. allows only the following individuals and circumstances for obtaining a complete copy of a driver's record:
Anyone can look up a free Washington D.C. license plate (tag) online at various public records websites. However, due to strict DPPA laws, you won't see any personal information for owners. You may only see the car's make, model, and year.