California Rolls Out Digital License Plates

Home > News > Content

【Summary】The sleek units allow individuals to create messages and beam it over to the plate, displaying a personally crafted message on the surface.

Michael Cheng    Jun 10, 2018 7:00 AM PT
California Rolls Out Digital License Plates

California is in the process of adopting digital license plates. The state recently launched a pilot program in various cities, including Sacramento, while preparing for a larger roll-out event in the near future.

Individuals residing in the state may purchase the digital plates from car dealerships for $699 (the units are not available for sale at California DMV facilities). This fee does not include installation and maintenance costs. A monthly subscription fee of $7 is required to use the service.

No Stickers Required

The new plates are equipped with small computer chips, a battery pack and wireless capabilities. With the sleek unit, car owners no longer have to attach registration tags on the plate every year. The car is registered with the California DMV electronically.

From a security perspective, the digital plates can help law enforcement retrieve stolen cars. The plates enable seamless tracking of vehicles, as long as the unit is not removed from the back of the car.

This feature does come with a handful of privacy concerns. First, police could (theoretically) track almost any vehicle with the digital plate – even if it isn't stolen. Next, the feature may attract hackers and criminals looking to exploit sensitive data about the daily routines of citizens.

"Your locational history has the potential to reveal a lot more than where you happen to be at a particular moment in time," said Stephanie Lacambra, a criminal defense attorney. "It can reveal your associations, who you speak with, where you go to work, where you live."

It is important to highlight that a standard plate is still required at the front of the vehicle – a practice applicable to residents of the state. In Sacramento, a total of 24 units will be tested on the city's fleet.  

Displaying Messages

Interestingly, owners of digital license plates would be able to customize the display boards. The units allow individuals to create messages and beam it over to the plate, displaying a personally crafted message on the surface. Although such features are readily available, the California DMV must first approve and set guidelines for displaying messages on the plate.

The feature is expected to attract businesses, as it can serve as an alternative form of advertising in local areas. In order to ensure license plate readings on the road are not disrupted by the messages, the license plate number is conveniently displayed in the corner of the board.

For official use, police fleets equipped with digital plates may display various types of timely announcements, such as Amber Alerts, lost pets, closed roads, city events and etc.

"Some businesses will use them as mini-billboards to advertise their products or services," said Neville Boston, founder of Reviver Auto, during an interview with The Sacramento Bee.

"The license plate number will still appear on the screen when messages pop up, but it will be smaller and tucked into the upper right corner of the screen."

Other states, including Florida, Texas and Arizona, are also in the process of adopting digital plates.

Prev                  Next
Writer's other posts
    Related Content