Someone Took a Photo of My License Plate – What To Do

There’s a soft breeze in the air as you come out of the supermarket, hoisting bags of food and random amenities you bought and come out to see someone snapping a picture of your car, more specifically your license plate. Where to go from here?

Why someone took a photo of my license plate is a mystery.  But If someone took a picture of your license plate, it is usually in the case that they think you may have done something wrong, have cut them off or performed an infraction on the road. They will not be able to get any of your personal information from this, however. 

Our License plate, besides the car itself, is the most identifiable feature on the automobile. It’s registered to your VIN number, as well as available to your insurance company for assurance purposes. But why would someone want to take a picture of it? Is there some nefarious activity going around that could cause someone to want to, is it possible that you cut the person off and they followed (or came across) your car to your destination. It’s a weird thing to come to grips with, but sometimes these things happen. 

Firstly, it is entirely legal for someone to photograph any aspect of your car, as long as it’s on public property (I.e Shopping mall, Supermarket, Gas Station). Same as it goes to someone photographing or videoing you, if they are not in your personal space, all you can try to do is ignore it. But why would someone want to take a photo of your license plate? Is it possible for someone to write down the plate number and steal your information from it, or is it merely a sovereign citizen expressing the first amendment?

Is It Legal for Someone to Take a Picture of My License Plate?

It is one hundred percent legal for someone to take a picture of your license plate. 

According to FindLaw, a site run by legal experts, when someone is in the privacy of their own home, they have high REP (Reasonable Expectation of Privacy). When someone is out at a supermarket, or baseball game or some other highly public setting, they have much lower REP. Unless the person is taking photos of you or your car (in a public setting) to harass or stalk you, that’s where laws start to get violated. 

Levels of Privacy Places
High Expectation of Privacy Within your own home, hotel room, anywhere that you have paid for or are behind closed doors. Creating a ruckus however would cause you to lose privacy due to a noise complaint. A High level of privacy is associated with being in your own personal domain, this even includes your backyard. 
Medium Expectation of Privacy A tricky spot, as you are still guaranteed some sense of privacy even in public. Someone filming you to deface you, or someone leaking a private conversation you had with someone else. This can be by video or photo. 
Low Expectation of Privacy Being an extreme public setting. On a freeway, in a parking lot, at a festival. Ex. Appearing on a jumbotron at your favorite sports team’s home game. 

If the photo of your car was taken in a public setting as stated, then you would not have any bearing in terms of saying it is invading your privacy. In order to counteract this, park further away from other cars and people if that’s what’s bothering you. Do all in your power to minimize the chances of some random photographer taking a photo of you or your personal vehicle by staying away from crowded areas. 

Unless this person is walking around your neighborhood or place of residence and photographing your cars, personal property, and other things of the sort. It is one hundred percent legal and they are well within their rights for doing so. If you’ve found a suspicious character walking around your neighborhood, snapping photos at night. Report them to your local authorities using their dispatch line. Look up your county’s name along with Dispatch Line and a non-emergency number will come up.  

This video by donut media, while goofy, does give you insight to know that someone getting your license plate number can do next to nothing with that information unless they paid a hefty fee to an online website.

If you do not want someone to take any unnecessary peeps inside your car, order a Foldable UV Ray Reflector for your front window. This can give you the peace of mind that no one, even harmless passerbyers, will get unnecessary peeks through your car. Click here to order yours on Amazon.

Why Would Someone Take a Photo of My License Plate?

Someone may be taking a picture of your license plate for various reasons: They could like the plate (Do you have a custom one?) they could be doing so in case they scratched your car, or you scratched those. There is typically no nefarious activity underneath it.

As it’s legal for someone to take a photo of your license plate, the only question that it leaves is: Why did they do it? 

Do not be worried, someone is not able to steal your personal information from your license plate, or else we’d have a lot of identity fraud cases in this day and age. If someone only has your vehicle’s license plate, they cannot do much with it. It’s an identifiable, government mandated object that is used to tie your car with someone. But its use is only that of police officers. 

Ever been in a traffic stop? Officers also ask for license and registration, as those are the more identifiable papers that one has in their car. A license being stolen is more paramount than a stolen license plate. Someone would actually be able to commit identity fraud with your license, not with your license plate. 

If someone took a photo of your license plate, they may very well also leave a note which states why they did, so be sure to look for that. Maybe they dinked your car pulling out of a parking spot, or maybe there is another more negligent reasoning. It’s nothing to worry about, although an invasion of privacy, someone taking a photo of your license plate is one of those small headaches that isn’t even worth the hassle.

Adding a tint to your license plate is all you need to stop someone from taking a picture of it. The Tinted License Plate Cover will not only dim the numbers on your plate (Though not at night), it will also keep your license plate in pristine condition and can prevent scratching, chipping, as well as indentations from rocks while driving. Get Yours on Amazon, Today!

What If Someone Reported My License Plate?

Someone could be reporting your license plate for various reasons:

  • They think you are implicated in some crime.
  • They think you are the cause of an accident. 
  • They could be trying to report you as a person, and your license plate was all they had available.

Regardless of someone’s reasoning for reporting your license plate, once they do, it’s no longer in anyone’s hands besides the authorities. If no crime occurred as well as you are not implicit in any way nor have a record, then the air will be cleared. No investigation will occur, and you won’t have to worry about anything. But the mere circumstance that permitted someone to snap a photo of your plate could still be on your mind, and it worries you constantly. 

If the person reported you for reckless driving, the case itself usually will not go far. As laws operate on facts and objectives, not assumptions or emotions, unless the person has adequate evidence, as well as multiple witnesses; someone reporting your license plate number will usually thin out as soon as the phone call ends with the dispatch line. 

Police, as well as other government officials have access to a wider array of information than a layman does, and while corruption is certainly still a thing, Officers are not one to abuse someone’s personal information for their own gain. 

According to BLS, 1.2 million Americans are reported to be police officers. Around .03% of the population! The odds of coming across one that is corrupt and using your license plate for their own gain would be negligible, roughly less than .001% percent. 

What to do if someone takes a Photo of My License Plate?

If the person who took a photo of your license plate is still nearby and hasn’t left. Try to talk to them.

If that person is no longer around, but you did see them do so, try not to worry about it. People take photos of things all the time, it’s an invasion of privacy for sure. But the unfortunate (or fortunate) truth is that there are probably dozens of photos of not just your car, but you that someone has on their camera roll. Don’t fret though, as you or your car are nothing more than background characters to them. 

Is My Car Considered Private Property? 

While your car is considered private property and you have every right to keep it private, this does not prevent someone from taking a photo of it or from police searching it. 

Private property is anything that a private party owns. This ranges from businesses to individuals. Your car falls under that same clauses, as long as it’s not a company work vehicle. Though your car is considered private property, when you are driving it out on the road you have to reasonably expect that other people will be looking at your car, you, and even your license plate. So you must take that responsibility when the situation arises. 

Personal Privacy has different statutes, especially with the technological advancements around us. 

Information Privacy  You have the freedom to determine how your digital information is collected and used. Ex. Allowing the collection of cookies or signing up for an app to track your data across apps. 
Communication Privacy You have the freedom/right to communicate information digitally with the reasonable expectation that it is secure. Ex. Sending a text and knowing only you and the other individual can see it.
Individual Privacy  You have the right to exist freely on the internet, and as long as no laws are being broken you deserve the anonymity that comes along with it. Ex. You can choose to watch videos and educate yourselves on various subjects, as long as no laws are broken or privacy is breached.

Though you have your own, personal privacy, you must know when that ends, whether that be by stepping out your door, or parking your car too close to someone else’s. 

In Conclusion

If someone takes a picture/photo of your license plate, there is no reason to worry. They cannot create any type of profile of you as well as gather any more information besides the plate number itself. Simply go on with your day, know that what they did is perfectly legal, and soon it’ll get lost in the long list of photos on their camera roll.

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