A private investigator with the proper credentials can get direct access to DMV records in all 50 states. The odd thing is that the DMV in every state operates differently. The information available, the charges, the turn-around time, etc. are all different.
An experienced investigator will know how to obtain the information you need if they understand the nature of your case and what you are looking to prove or disprove.
One request that comes up repeatedly is… “I have the plate/tag/VIN, so can you tell me who owns the car and where they live?”
Investigators that are working independently of Insurance Companies and Law Firms no longer get address information from the DMV in California. The restriction on address information came about because a rogue investigator decided to use address information from the DMV to stalk and eventually kill a woman that he met at a bar. The private investigation industry and our client’s must live with the after effects of this horrible decision.
A private investigator can get the name of a registered owner or owners and the legal (lien) holders name(s). From there an investigator can initiate a skip-trace or locate investigation to track down the whereabouts of the owner.
DMV records are very useful if you are looking to verify ownership of a vehicle as of date of loss or accident. An investigator with access to the DMV can run ownership as of a date in the past and they can get purchase histories and the supporting documents.
In California, it is also possible to run the name of individual along with their address and find out if any vehicles are registered to them. This means that in order to get a hit on vehicles owned in a persons name who must know where they currently reside or have resided to get a hit. If the subject registers their vehicle at their parents house and you don’t run that address you will not find evidence of the vehicle being owned by your subject.
As mentioned above every state has different rules so work with a licensed investigator who has experience running DMV searches in numerous states and they will be able to keep you up to date on the available searches and what information can be revealed.
Here is a link to a video that Tim Santoni recently recorded on this topic for his YouTube show, The Ask a Private Investigator Show.