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Can the police track my license plate?

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Have you seen cameras on the highway lately? As cameras are increasingly being removed from highways for the purpose of enforcing speed limits, they are being replaced with license plate readers, much to the concern of many Americans as they capture license plates regardless of guilt or innocence.

What are license plate readers?

License plate readers look like cameras, but they track license plates of all passing vehicles. They are mounted on highways, road signs, bridges, police cars and other city vehicles. And, they can take pictures of thousands of license plates a minute. The license plate numbers, along with the date, time and location of the picture, is collected in a database that is usually pooled with other databases. Currently, there are no rules or regulations for such databases, even though the vast majority of these data are for innocent motorists and their location and travel information.

Not restricted to law enforcement

Currently, these data could be used or sold to anyone for any purpose. It is not restricted to just law enforcement. Cities and law enforcement could sell this information to third-party aggregators that already create massive information networks on American citizens.

Innocence does not matter

Since there are currently no national standards on such license plate data collection policies, the government can store innocent people’s information for an indefinite period of time. This could allow the government to track innocent people forever.

You would never know

If your vehicle was part of one of these license plate databases, you would never know. Currently, you have no way of knowing if your car is part of these databases, and there is no way to have your information removed.

License plate reader abuses

Without oversite, license plate readers and their accompanying databases are rife for abuse, according to industry insiders and the ACLU. However, if you find yourself up against an Annapolis, Maryland, criminal case that is a result of a license plate reader, you have options. Work with your attorney to craft a defense.