5 Common Myths about License Plate Readers

Before license plate reader (LPR) technology, law enforcement agencies built databases by hand. Now license plate readers allow for quick capture and building of the database. As a result, officers can spend more time on following leads and solving cases. With the increase in popularity of LPR systems, many common misconceptions have been circling around.  Let Brite’s LPR experts lay them to rest!


Myth #1 – License plate readers are an invasion of privacy.

License plate readers are commonly confused with tracking devices. There is key differentiation between the two. A plate reader captures a singular data point at a specific time and location. Tracking involves multiple data points at various times and locations, connecting them all together.  The data captured includes: an infrared image of the plate, interpretation of the license plate, date stamp, and GPS location.

There is no collection of personal information. A step to protect driver’s is the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). This law regulates the disclosure of personal information contained in a person’s motor vehicle record.


Myth #2 – The public can access the collected data.

There are two ways to build a database. The first is by law enforcement collecting the data via mobile or fixed LPRs. The law enforcement agency that collects the data has sole access to the data. The agency can choose to share its data with thousands of other law enforcement agencies.  The second way is using the commercial data that Vigilant shares from Digital Recognition Network with law enforcement agencies. This commercial data is also only available to law enforcement.


Myth #3 – License plate readers target individuals. 

Since no identifying information is associated with the license plate scan, specific individuals cannot be targeted.


Myth #4 – License plate reader technology violates the Fourth Amendment.

The goal of the Fourth Amendment is to protect the people from unreasonable search and seizure. Courts have held that because license plate readers are single-instance database they are not considered searches. Also, license plates are not considered a reasonable expectation of privacy since they are in public view.


Myth #5 – License plate readers do not help solve crimes.

The constant capture of license plates leads to vehicles associated with a crime being found quicker and the faster arrest of suspects.  Here are examples of how well LPR data helps solve crimes including “Sheriff’s Department of Sacramento County located 495 stolen vehicles, 5 carjacked vehicles, and 19 other felony vehicles (45 people were arrested).”

If you want to learn more about license plate recognition, contact Brite today or check out Vigilant License Plate Recognition.