How to Lookup an Alabama License Plate
To look up a license plate in Alabama, you need to contact the Alabama Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division, and pay an annual subscription fee of $95 plus $6 for each report. You must supply your name, address, email address, driver's license number, your phone number, and the license plate you are searching for. In some cases, you must also supply documentation proving you are eligible to receive records. The information you will get to see will include the odometer reading, title number, the color of the car or truck, the date the title was issued, the purchase date, along with the lien holder's information, title status, and lien date. Alabama has strict DPPA laws, and only specific individuals with proper identification can pull records for another person. Some of the allowable purposes are for insurance, private investigations, a court order, or obtaining a copy of your own record.
Alabama Vehicle License Plate Regulations
Alabama has various laws related to license plate registration and tilting of a vehicle. When someone moves to the state of Alabama, they have 30 days to register the car. Upon purchasing a new vehicle, the owner has 20 days to register the new vehicle. Some other regulations related to Alabama license plate registration are:
- You must register your vehicle and obtain your plates from the county offices where you reside
- The owner must provide proof of insurance when registering
- For vehicles that require a certificate of title, the owner must procure an Alabama certificate of title through a designated agent of the Alabama Department of Revenue
- Military personnel stationed in Alabama may retain their out-of-state registration, or they can convert to Alabama license plates
- License plate registrations must remain in the vehicle at all times. Failure to do so and present it upon request will result in a $50 fee
Alabama uses a staggered registration system for renewals that go from January through November, based on the first letter of the owner's last name. Not all counties send out renewal notices. Anyone who fails to renew their registration on time will pay an additional $15 late fee.
Available Alabama License Plate Options
The state of Alabama has many options for license plates. Each type is described below:
- Standard - owners of private passenger automobiles, including pickup trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 8,000, may purchase these types for $23. They also offer motorcycle, trailer, and handicapped plates in this category
- Distinctive - these plates offer drivers dozens of unique design and color choices, including some that support causes (like cancer) and foundations. In some cases, you must be a supporter of the cause to purchase this type. They apply to motorcycles, private vehicles, pickup trucks, and recreational vehicles. These plates cost $50/year
- Collegiate - for college students and alumni, each plate bores the symbol and tag line for the school. These cost $50/year and are available on private passenger vehicles, pickup trucks, and recreational vehicles
- Military - for military vehicles and personnel only
- Dealer - plain license plates available to car dealers and manufacturers who are licensed by the state via statues Sections 40-12-51 or Section 40-12-169 and 40-12-391. They are not restricted to any specific type of vehicle and cost $26/year
- Temporary Tags - issued by government offices for use until registration
- Government - for government officials only
- Vintage - original vintage license plates for cars, trucks, and motorcycles
What is the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) in Alabama?
The Alabama statute 810-5-1-.485 Implementation of the Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), is the law regarding the use and dissemination of personal information linked to driver's license numbers and plate numbers. Some of the highlights of this law are:
- "In General - Except as provided in subsection (b), a State department of motor vehicles, and any officer, employee, or contractor, thereof, shall not knowingly disclose or otherwise make available to any person or entity personal information about any individual obtained by the department in connection with a motor vehicle record".
- "Personal information. Information that identifies a person, including an individual's social security number, name, address (but not the 5-digit zip code), telephone number, and medical or disability information".
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it Legal to Lookup a License Plate Number in Alabama?
Yes, it is legal but with very fine restrictions. You must contact the Alabama Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Division to obtain records and they release them only to the following individuals with a legal right to review:
- The vehicle owner
- Someone with express written consent (like a lawyer or power of attorney)
- A court representative
- An insurer (corporate or private)
- A private investigator
When requesting records, you must provide documentation proving you have a legal right to review the information. Proper forms may include a power of attorney, signed consent form, private investigator's license, court documentation, or ownership paperwork.
What Information Do I Need to Request License Plate Records?
When requesting records, you need to provide your own personal information, including name, address, driver's license number, email address, and phone. You must also provide the license plate number for the vehicle you wish you look up. Be prepared to provide documentation to prove your legal right to use the information as well.
How to Search an Alabama License Plate Using a VIN?
You may use the ADOR website to lookup a license plate using a VIN or a third-party vendor. However, be warned that access is restricted in some cases.
How to Locate the Owner of a License Plate in Alabama?
Alabama has a special area on the Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles website to report an abandoned vehicle. You can enter the license plate number, and this will generate a report with the owner's name, address, and complete vehicle information, including VIN.
What is Considered Legal Use of License Plate Information?
Alabama restricts the use of license plate owner information for specific purposes; they include:
- A vehicle insurer may need to review driver records
- A private investigator who requires information about a driver they are investigating
- A lawyer or judge may request the records based on a court order
- A vehicle owner may want to review their own record for accuracy
- Via the power of attorney, someone could request the records for an ill or deceased person
How to Do a Free Plate Lookup?
You can look up an Alabama license plate for free online using one of many third-party websites. The Alabama Department of Revenue does not have a way that you can look up records for free. They charge a fee for all reports. Using a free service, you can look up a license plate in Alabama but will only see basic vehicle information like make, model, year, and other manufacturer details.