Are License Plate Scanner Legal?

License plate scanners, also called automatic license plate recognition systems (ALPR), are current technology devices often used by police. These units are able to scan license plates very quickly and match them to a database. ALPR systems are a legal tool utilized by law enforcement.

What Do License Plate Scanners Flag?

ALPR systems are designed to look at license plate numbers and in split-second they can check the police database. The database is set up to flag for specific items such as:

  • License plate tags that are expired
  • Registration that is missing or expired
  • Stolen vehicles
  • Expired insurance
  • Suspended driver’s license
  • Unpaid fines
  • Outstanding warrants
  • Criminal suspects

ALPR systems are often used directly in police cars or they can be mounted to permanent locations to scan vehicles as they pass by. If a problem is detected, the police officer will perform a traffic stop.

Are ALPR Systems Legal?

The short answer is yes. In most situations, law enforcement can use these systems to assist them in their daily work. While these systems may be legal, some people feel they are too intrusive. These systems are in place to find potential violations. However, it is important to remember that they are used as tools only and a legal traffic stop must be performed in accordance with the law.

How to Fight Traffic Tickets

If you have been stopped by law enforcement as a result of the use of an ALPR system you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Traffic tickets, generally speaking, allow you less than a month to either pay them or request a hearing. Tickets for some offenses may allow you to resolve the problem. For example, if you get a ticket for lack of insurance, you may be able to show proof of insurance to resolve the situation.

If you have received a traffic ticket or have been stopped as a result of the ALPR system, call your lawyer immediately. Your attorney will review the situation to determine whether the traffic stop was conducted legally. Further, if the matter requires a hearing, don’t simply pay the ticket because that means you agree to a guilty plea. Contact a experienced traffic attorney to assess the situation and provide you with your available options.