How To Lookup West Virginia License Plates
You can easily look up a West Virginia license plate for free using the plate number and an online public records portal. The information you may find, though, will be basic details about the vehicle such as year, make, model, trim level, engine type, transmission, steering and braking systems, and the manufacturer. If you are looking for deeper insights into the vehicle owner details, you must follow strict privacy laws when accessing them and using them. However, if you do comply and are eligible, you can see things like the owner's name, address phone number, social security number, driver's license number, photographs, and sometimes medical or disability information. However, whenever obtaining motor vehicle records that contain personal details, you have to comply with strict privacy laws and supply your name and contact info, plus the owner's name, date of birth and ID number.
West Virginia Motor Vehicle Regs
The state of West Virginia requires that all registered vehicles have one license plate attached to the rear of the vehicle. The only exception to this, are truck and road tractors, where the license plates need to be mounted on the front of the vehicle.
Additionally, West Virginia states that "every motor vehicle, trailer, semi-trailer, pole trailer, and recreational vehicle when driven, or moved upon a highway, must be titled and registered." All vehicles must be insured and inspected annually. New residents have only ten days to register their vehicles.
The West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is the agency in charge of handling vehicle registrations. You can renew your West Virginia vehicle registration online or in-person at the local DMV office. West Virginia also has convenient DMV NOW kiosks where you can "Skip the Trip" and renew using one of those.
West Virginia License Plate Types
West Virginia offers its residents a standard license plate design for no additional charge. However, they also offer many different types of specialty plates to choose from in four categories: Associations and Organizations, Colleges & Universities, General Interest, and Military. Some of the plates they offer are:
- Amateur Radio.
- Beni Kedem Temple.
- Emergency Medical Services.
- WV Chiropractic Society.
- Wounded in the Line of Duty.
- Concord College.
- Virginia Tech.
- Marshall University.
- Breast Cancer Awareness.
- Back the Blue.
- Classic Car.
- Air Force Cross.
- American Legion.
This is just a small sampling of the available license plates in West Virginia. They also offer disabled plates for those who need them.
What Does the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) in West Virginia Do?
Prior to 1997, motor vehicle records with personal details were given out freely to the general public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIC). To prevent the disbursement of personal details from motor vehicle records, the federal government enacted the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). To properly implement the federal DPPA, West Virginia passed the West Virginia Uniform Motor Vehicle Records Disclosure Act.(W. Va. Code § 17A-2A-1)
According to West Virginia Code §17A-2A-3, personal information consists of: "his or her photograph or computerized image, Social Security number, driver identification number (driver's license number), name, address (excluding the five-digit zip code), telephone and medical or disability information.
Strict DPPA laws guard these records, and the punishment for violating them is harsh and may include steep fines, jail time, and even lawsuits.
West Virginia License Plate Search Frequently Asked Questions
Is it Legal to Search for a License Plate Number in West Virginia?
Yes, it is legal to look up a license plate number in West Virginia, as long as you comply with strict federal and state DPPA laws. If you use those records to contact someone or use their personal details in a way that violates DPPA laws, you may face severe consequences.
What Will I Need to Request Records?
West Virginia has a form where individuals can get a copy of their own records and an online portal where they can look them up in real-time. Some individuals and businesses can also lookup other people's records. You will need your name, address, phone number, email address, and the person's name, date of birth, and driver's license number to search.
How to Look Up a West Virginia License Plate Using the VIN?
Per the methods mentioned above, there is no way to look up a West Virginia license plate using a VIN. However, there are third-party online portals you can use, plus there is also the NHTSA lookup tool and the national title registry where you can see recalls and crash history reports for a vehicle by its VIN.
How to Find the Vehicle Owner of a License Plate in West Virginia?
You cannot look up the owner of a license plate in West Virginia legally unless you fall into one of the allowable categories to do so. When requesting records, you must prove you have an acceptable use. Otherwise, you will be denied access. If you need to find someone by their license plate, try contacting the local police for help.
What Are Some Allowable Uses of License Plate Information?
The state of West Virginia does not list the allowable uses under their DPPA laws. Instead, they have requesters fill out a form, and if they are denied access, they can send a message through the state DMV to the person, but they will not be given access to their personal details. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Per federal DPPA laws, some acceptable uses are for legal issues, insurance, government, law enforcement, and private investigations. West Virginia does not allow any records to be released for sales, marketing, or TV, news, and media stories. West Virginia has one of the strictest privacy policies in the country.
How Do I Look Up West Virginia License Plates for Free?
You can use various online portals to look up a West Virginia license plate for free. The information you may find though, will be basic details about the vehicle such as year, make, model, trim level, engine type, transmission, steering and braking systems, and the manufacturer.