States Move Toward Digital License Plates

Some state vehicles in Maryland will be outfitted with digital license plates as part of a two-year pilot program to see if the developing technology could work for customers.
June 26, 2019 AT 7:26 AM

By Kate Elizabeth Queram

Some state vehicles in Maryland will be outfitted with digital license plates as part of a two-year pilot program to see if the developing technology could work for customers.

The devices come with a built-in LTE connection that can allow for payment of tolls and parking fees, display of amber alerts and safety information, and automatic registration renewal that eliminates the need for a plate sticker and a trip to the DMV. The plates can also alert law enforcement if a car is reported stolen.

“We are constantly evaluating emerging technologies in the transportation industry to find innovative ideas that could benefit our customers,” Chrissy Nizer, administrator of the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration, said in a statement. “We are excited about the digital plate pilot and the potential of this technology to pave the way for additional customer convenience.”

The test program, a partnership with digital license plate manufacturer Reviver, will provide the digital plates to 20 MVA fleet vehicles and two Maryland Transportation Authority vehicles. The devices, provided to the state for free, are the same size as traditional license plates but have a digital display that uses the same technology as Amazon’s popular Kindle e-readers.

Digital license plates aren’t yet legal in Maryland. Motorists in California and Arizona can use them in place of traditional plates, though the technology has not thus far been widely popular.

Roughly 1,400 out of 25 million registered cars in California have the plates, according to data from the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Drivers that opt for the digital plates can only install them on the rear of the car, with a traditional plate required for the front. Digital plates have been legal for drivers in Arizona since January, but a spokesman for the state’s Department of Transportation told the Frederick News Post he was unaware of any in use in the state.

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