Pardon my ignorance, but how did they legally get all these names and addresses from the county automobile registration database? Is that information just open to the public, or did they have to file paperwork to obtain the information?
If someone cuts me off in traffic, can I take down their plate number and simply go get their name and address? That is a freaking SCARY scenario.
It depends on state laws, which vary. Some states are more protective of privacy than others. But ultimately, I think if you have PIs working for you, you can get a whole lot of information that the general public can't get.
I'm not a law expert by any means, but I'm pretty sure all of that information is confidential. If state and local governments won't hand out the addresses and phone numbers of convicted sex offenders I'm pretty sure it's illegal to disseminate information from the DMV.
I have never done a license plate lookup, but I after reading your post I was curious enough about it to Google for information. Right away I turned up online companies that say they will do license plate lookups. Like I said, I haven't used them, so I don't know how reliable they are. But I did look closely at the site of one of them, Docusearch.com, where I found a notice about something called the DPAA (Driver's Privacy Protection Act):
Statewide Vehicle Ownership By Plate Or VIN:
Pursuant to the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (DPPA), you may only access this data for one of the following permitted uses:
1. Use by a court, law enforcement agency or other government agency.
2. Use for any matter of motor vehicle or driver safety or theft to inform an owner of a towed or impounded vehicle; or by an employer or insurer to obtain or verify information relating to a holder of a commercial driver's license.
3. Use in the normal course of business, to verify the accuracy of personal information submitted by the individual to the business and, if the submitted information is incorrect, to obtain correct information, but only for the purpose of preventing fraud by, or pursuing legal remedies against, the individual.
4. Use in connection with a civil, criminal, administrative, or arbitral proceeding.
5. Use in research or in producing statistical reports, but only if the personal information is not published, re-disclosed, or used to contact any individual.
6. Use by an insurer or insurance support organization, in connection with claims investigation activities, anti-fraud activities, rating or underwriting.
7. For any other use if the motor vehicle department has provided a notice that personal information may be disclosed to any business or person and has provided an opportunity to prohibit such disclosures.
8. Use by a licensed private investigative agency or licensed security service for a purpose permitted in items 1 through 7 above.
9. Written consent of individual. Copy of signed consent must be faxed to Docusearch prior to the request being filled. (888) 467-5995.
You will be required to select one of the above options when placing your order. By inputting your response, you hereby certify to Docusearch that you are in, and assume full responsibility for, compliance with the DPPA and you agree to indemnify, defend and hold Docusearch harmless from any breach of the DPPA by you, your agents or contractors and any damages, fees and costs associated therewith. Information from this file may not be used to determine a consumer's eligibility for credit, insurance or employment, pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, (15 U.S.C. Sec 1681)
In other words, Docusearch will give you the info as long as you swear that you need it for a valid reason (and pay for it)!
By the way, I don't know about phone numbers, but I am pretty sure many if not all states provide addresses of sex offenders. One place I found with info is here