General Question

2davidc8's avatar

Is it possible to find the registered owner of a car, using just the license plate number, and make and model of the car?

Asked by 2davidc8 (4292 points ) April 12th, 2012

My mom has Alzheimer’s, and some months back she let a guy park his car in her empty carport at her condo complex. (It’s a very large condo complex, so there are hundreds of people, and there are thousands of people in the entire retirement community.) She can’t remember who the guy was. It’s a very expensive car that he must not drive very much because he keeps a car cover over it, and we’ve never seen him, or seen him drive it. Probably just a toy to him.

But my siblings and I are not comfortable with the possible liability issues, and we would like to talk to him.

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12 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Take the license plate number down to the local DMV or the cop shop and explain the situation. If they can’t help you they may be able to tell you who to talk to.

zenvelo's avatar

It used to be easy, but nowadays, after a lot of anti-stalking laws, it can be difficult. @WestRiverrat suggested the police, and I suggest talking to them also.

Or, you could take the car cover off, put a post-it note on the driver’s window and have him call you. If he lives there, he’ll notice the cover missing.

CWOTUS's avatar

I think you should rest assured about “liability issues”, though. If your mother let him use the spot as a favor – that is, if there was no money or other value or consideration exchanged – then she has no liability. And if anything ever comes up and, lo and behold she did accept money or a gift or something (even if she signed a contract with him!) if she’s mentally incapable, then there’s no contract.

By all means follow @WestRiverrat‘s advice for contacting the owner (actually, having the police contact him, since it would likely be a violation for them to research the owner and hand over that information to you) and see if you can have the conversation. But you really have nothing to worry about, based on the scenario described.

marinelife's avatar

If you can access the DMV database, then you can find him. I would think that if you explain it to the local police that they would run the plate for you.

Buttonstc's avatar

Presumably this guy also lives in this retirement community?

You could also try the central office as many apt/condo communities have your cars plate number on record. Several places ive lived in required this info of me.

At least if they wont directly give you the info, they should be willing to send him your info and request that he contact you.

2davidc8's avatar

@Buttonstc Good idea if the community required it. I doubt it, though. When my mom used to have a car, I don’t remember ever registering it with any central office.

@zenvelo Great idea with the post-it note on the driver window. He does have to drive it some time, to keep the battery from running down. Maybe he’ll contact us.

Years ago, it used to be easier to find this information at the DMV or police. You could even find out online at the DMV website. But nowadays they’re much more reluctant to give out this info. So, @CWOTUS, another great idea; if the post-its don’t work, I’ll try having the police contact him in our behalf. And thank you for the reassurance about liability. But what about the real estate concept of “adverse possession”? If he openly takes possession of that part of the property, after a few years, will he be able to claim an easement later, or worse yet, that the carport is now his?

john65pennington's avatar

Call a police officer out to your house and explain your situation as you have explained it to us on Fluther.

The officer will run the license plate and probably only give you the address of the car owner.

The rest will be up to you.

This is the only way.

ffsc's avatar

I would take the advice of @john65pennington. (Un)fortunately you can’t access this type of information as easily as your once could.

2davidc8's avatar

Thanks, everyone, for your help. I think I’ll go the sticky notes route first, but if the guy does not respond, I’ll see if the police will put me in touch with the guy, one way or the other. Thanks for your suggestions!

WestRiverrat's avatar

@2davidc8 I suggest calling the nonemergency number for the police when you do contact them.

CWOTUS's avatar

You could always opt to have the car towed, you know. The best way is to not do that yourselves. That is, alert the condo association, let them know the facts you’ve given us here and ask that they take care of it. If they don’t know or can’t contact the owner of the vehicle (and they probably can), then you should insist that they call whoever they have contracted with to remove unwanted or unauthorized vehicles from other parking spots. That way, your hands are clean if the guy shows up at the door angry about the missing car: you never called for a tow.

2davidc8's avatar

@WestRiverrat and @CWOTUS Yes, I’ll use the non-emergency number, but I hope it won’t come to that. I’ll try the note-on-the-windshield solution suggestion first. Thank you all for your input.

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