California drivers can now sport digital license plates on their cars: NPR

A digital license plate made by Reviver is shown in California on May 30, 2018.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A digital license plate made by Reviver is shown in California on May 30, 2018.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Say goodbye to that rusty piece of metal. California drivers will now be able to obtain digital license plates under a new law.

The Golden State had previously tested alternatives to traditional license plates, but a law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom late last month expands the option to all drivers.

License plate-sized displays display the driver’s license plate number and allow motorists to renew their registration automatically. Users can even switch between light and dark modes and customize plaques with custom banners.

California Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, who sponsored the legislation, said it would make life easier for drivers.

“It’s a convenience product and I want to give people a choice here in the state of California,” Wilson said, according to ABC30 Fresno.

Reviver, the company that provides digital license plates in California, said the technology is also legal in Arizona and Michigan as well as Texas for commercial fleet vehicles. Ten other states are also considering adopting digital license plates, the California-based company said.

Plate tracking capabilities have raised privacy concerns

The company’s so-called RPlate can be equipped with GPS and allows users, including employers, to track a vehicle’s location and mileage.

That capability has raised eyebrows among privacy advocates, but Reviver said it doesn’t share data with the California Department of Motor Vehicles or law enforcement.

The RPlate can also flash a message if a vehicle is reported stolen or if there’s an Amber Alert, features that Wilson says will be a boon to public safety.

“Looking out the back of a vehicle, if I’m driving behind a vehicle and I see this, it will concern me and I’ll be alert for what I can potentially see,” Wilson said. She told the Los Angeles Times that drivers with privacy concerns could disable the GPS function on their own vehicles.

The company said about 10,000 California drivers purchased the RPlate during the pilot program, a number that is expected to increase now that digital license plates are available for all 36 million vehicles registered in the state.

A 2019 report from California’s DMV found that — other than a few traffic stops by police who believed digital license plates were illegal — there were no major concerns about the new technology from drivers. authorities or drivers.

“The department believes the digital license plate is a viable alternative to the license plate and recommends that it become a permanent option for Californians,” the agency said.

Reviver offers a battery-powered version of the RPlate that costs $19.95 per month as well as a hard-wired option for utility vehicles priced at $24.95 per month.

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