Automatic license plate scanning technology is now in use by police in Clinton, CT. As we’ve previously noted, these systems are rolled out in New Haven, and are rapidly expanding to other communities and law enforcement agencies in Connecticut and nationwide.
These computer scanning systems track and identify huge numbers of license plates on vehicles, whether parked or moving. By photographing and scanning the tag number, and matching them to on-board databases, police can quickly identify stolen vehicles in a huge parking lot.
Other common uses of these systems are identifying cars who’s owners may have unpaid traffic tickets, or owe municipal back taxes. When matched with court, DMV, and law enforcement records, they can also flag cars owned by individuals with suspended driver’s licenses, lapsed auto insurance, outstanding criminal warrants, and more.
And it all happens absolutely passively, and constantly, while a police vehicle is driving down the street, through a parking lot, or sitting at the side of the highway. There is no doubt that these systems are huge labor and time saving devices, and can make efficient use of a police officer’s shift.
But some people question what happens with all this data. Is it right that, just because you drove down the highway, or parked at a shopping mall, your presence there was scanned, and logged in a government database with GPS positioning, date and time? It is easy to envision a future where the police can track your past movements by looking up any past hits on your license plate – even though you have done nothing wrong – and aren’t even suspected of doing anything illegal.
That’s a large question to ask, and the civil liberties concerns are real, and deserve to be debated. But the immediate issue is that no one should believe that they can easily get away with stealing a car, driving on a suspended license, or avoiding a warrant after a failure to appear in court. It is only going to get tougher for you to hide from these problems.
If you are arrested and charged with a crime in Connecticut, please contact our defense attorneys for a free case evaluation and legal consultation.