How to Find Information on a Colorado License Plate
Using just the license plate number, you can search and find basic vehicle information. Otherwise, you may purchase a full report from the Colorado Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles. However, you may only obtain a copy of your own unless you have signed permission from the vehicle owner. According to Colorado's DMV, "Colorado State law and the Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) state that the department shall not 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." If you pay for a report, you will have to supply your name, address, phone number, driver's license number, and a good reason for requesting. You will, however, get a lot more information like the vehicle owner's name, address, phone number, social security number, driving records, and sometimes even photos and medical information.
Colorado Motor Vehicle Regulations
You must register a new vehicle within 60 days after purchase. If you move to Colorado from another state, you have 90 days to register it. Colorado requires proof of insurance to register a vehicle. Other licensing and plate regulations are:
- Vehicle owners may transfer plates from one car or truck to another if they own both vehicles.
- There are specific laws regarding antique vehicles and titling and registering them as well as special plates.
- You can apply at the county registration office for personalized plates, it takes between 6-8 weeks for approval.
Vehicle registration renewals must be completed on time (every year), or the county will impose a $25 late fee along with the regular charges. Late fees may be waived for military personnel stationed outside of Colorado. All registration fees are based on vehicle, weight, taxable value, purchase date, and type of plate requested.
Colorado License Plate Options
The state of Colorado has a variety of license plate options for residents. They have standard plates which comprise a few different categories:
- Light truck.
- Recreational truck.
- Disability plates.
- Designer plates (one style).
- Trailer plates.
Colorado also offers dozens of plates supporting different groups like Fallen Heroes, Girl Scouts, Craig Hospital, the Air Force, and others. The state also has a wide variety for other purposes such as government employees, taxis, farmers, police, livery and more. Additionally, you can order military plates or those that honor your university. Most plates use the same styling with different colors.
Any plate that deviates from the standard plate may cost extra. Residents can also request personalized plates where they choose the letters and/or numbers on them. These are approved or rejected based on availability, and there is an extra fee for those as well. They typically take 6-8 weeks for processing.
The Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) in Colorado
Colorado takes personal privacy seriously, and in conjunction with Colorado State law and the Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), they claim that "For a person to purchase a record other than their own, they must declare their intended use of that record, or they must have the signature of the person in interest authorizing them to inspect the record."
The DMV retains license plate records for seven years. Anyone requesting records must provide a signed consent form and pay a fee. They must also fill out a DR 2489A Motor Vehicle Requestor Release Affidavit of Intended Use form. The affidavit includes 10 permitted uses, which include:
- use by a government agency
- use by an agency charged with vehicle safety, theft or recall
- use by a business for research activities as long as personal information is not published
- use in connection with a legal proceeding
- use by an insurer or insurance agency in connection with coverage or claims
- to provide notice to owners of towed or impounded vehicles
- use in connection with research related to verification of "junk", "salvage" or "rebuilt" status
- use by a business to verify accuracy of submitted information to prevent fraud
- use for bonding for Colorado title
use by insurer or salvage pool in connection with claims or possession
Colorado License Plate Search Frequently Asked Questions
Is it Okay to Lookup a Colorado License Plate Numbers?
It is only legal to lookup license plate numbers in Colorado for very few purposes. Colorado DPPA laws restrict the usage to law enforcement, legal, investigative, and court-related purposes. According to the Colorado DMV, these are the stated allowable reasons:
- By a business that will use the information to verify the accuracy of information submitted by individuals for the purposes of preventing fraud, pursuing legal remedies against or recovering a debt or security interest.
- In connection with a civil, criminal, administrative or arbitral proceeding in any court or before a self-regulatory body, including process service, investigation, execution of judgment, or pursuant to a court order.
- * By an insurer or insurance support agency in connection with claims, investigations, anti-fraud activities, rating or underwriting.
- * To provide notice to owners of towed or impounded vehicles.
- * Research activity to verify if record is "Junk," Salvage," or "Rebuilt from Salvage."
- Bonding for title (applying for title without proper ownership documents) or Application for Colorado Assigned ID.
Anyone, however, can look up a free license plate number that won't expose any personal owner information.
What Information Will I Need to Search for Records?
You need a signed consent and DR 2489A Motor Vehicle Requestor Release Affidavit of Intended Use form along with your name, driver's license number, address, phone, and purpose when requesting records.
How to Look Up a Colorado License Plate Using the VIN?
The state of Colorado does not allow individuals to look up records via plate or VIN. However, if you have the proper paperwork and a signed consent form, you can look up using the VIN, plate number, or title number. You can always use a third-party resource to check a vehicle by VIN.
How to Locate an Owner of a Colorado License Plate?
If you are a towing company, law officer, or other legitimate person trying to locate the owner of a vehicle, the state of Colorado does allow you to use their forms and system to look someone up related to an abandoned or repossessed vehicle.
What are Some Legal Uses for License Plate Information?
Colorado has very rigid laws regarding the use of license plate lookups and the sensitive information contained with them. They offer only a few permissible uses:
- Law enforcement and towing companies to locate the owner of an impounded or abandoned vehicle.
- Insurance company can get a copy.
- Private investigators can obtain a copy.
- Automobile manufacturer.
- Attorney's involved in a court case (that relates to the vehicle) can also get a copy.
- A vehicle owner can order a copy of their own.
How to Search for a Colorado License Plates for Free
There are public records databases online where you can look up a Colorado license plate for free. However, the information contained in it will be limited to just the vehicle's make, model, and the year it was manufactured. You may see other mechanical details but that's it.