PennDOT: license plate readers in, registration stickers out
The state Department of Transportation is working to reallocate funds it would save from the elimination of registration stickers into a grant program for Automated License Plate Reader technology.
The technology, which is already being utilized by approximately 60 police departments in the state, uses cameras mounted on vehicles to take pictures of licenses and automatically detect expired registrations and insurance, according to Kurt Myers, PennDOT deputy secretary of Driver and Vehicle Services.
PennDOT officials demonstrated the technology, which can also detect stolen vehicles or arrest warrants, to state legislators and law enforcement officials on Wednesday in Harrisburg.
"The cameras caught three vehicles passing by with expired licenses," said Myers, who added that the circumstances of the demonstration prevented officers from pursuing those vehicles.
Data compiled by PennDOT from implementation of this technology in southeastern parts of the state estimate that, since June 2015, the readers have recovered $2.3 million worth of stolen vehicles, lead to the arrest of 21 wanted criminals and four Megan's Law offenders.
PennDOT is working with legislators to create a multi-year grant program for departments that want to implement the technology, which costs approximately $18,000 per reader, according to Myers.
The grant program would be funded by savings from the elimination of registration stickers, which is scheduled to begin in 2017.
"The stickers are really old technology," Myers said. "They can be stolen or fraudulently reproduced ... (and) from a consumer standpoint, (eliminating stickers) makes things easier."
Elimination of mailing costs and registration stickers would save approximately $3.1 million in 2017, according to PennDOT estimates.
The sticker changes, outlined under Act 89 of 2013, aren't a sure thing, though, with legislation to repeal the sticker removal part of the law currently sitting in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 1154 cleared the House with a non-partisan vote in June 2015.
Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, was the only York County lawmaker to vote against the bill. He previously told The York Dispatch that understood that stickers are useful for police, but he sees them as an inconvenience for drivers.
— Reach David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org.