Electronic License Plates Get the Green Light in California

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A bill allowing the use of electronic license plates passed the California state’s assembly last week and is now waiting to be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

The passage of bill SB 806 makes California the first state to move forward with electronic license plates, an initiative that government officials hope makes motorist registration more efficient.

The state hopes this digital technology will improve help make vehicle registrations  easier and possibly save the state’s Department of Motorized Vehicles some of the $20 million spent each year in postage for renewals, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The plates would allow California government to post alerts on those plates to see if the driver of the vehicle is uninsured or if their license has been suspended. Authorities will also be able to post Amber Alerts across the screen and even a “stolen” notice on the plate if the vehicle has been illegally taken from its owner.

The bill is described to be a pilot program scheduled to go into effect by 2017, but other states, such as New Jersey and South Carolina, are also looking at the technology as a means to make driving registration easier, reports Mashable.

In perhaps unsurprising fashion, privacy advocates believe that the new initiative will leave motorists vulnerable to government surveillance by “undoing a Supreme Court ruling that required authorizes to obtain search warrants before using vehicle tracking devices,” the Sacramento Bee reports.

This is just the most recent of California’s initiatives for technology based driving. Just last year Gov. Brown signed SB 1298, a bill that gave Google the green light from state legislature in Sacramento to test driverless cars.

Google has been testing driverless vehicles on California roads since 2010. The company’s driverless cars have more hours reported without accidents than the average U.S. driver, according to Mashable. The state’s Department of Motorized Vehicles has two years to figure out how to state licensing driverless cars, following Nevada and Florida in making the driverless car explicitly legal.

Sources: Mashable, Sacramento Bee