Pa. grants would help police buy license plate readers

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – PennDOT is proposing a grant program to help police departments afford new technology that allows officers to quickly check vehicle registrations once the state no longer issues license plate stickers.

Under Act 89 of 2013, PennDOT will stop issuing the license plate stickers on December 31. The change is expected to save PennDOT more than $1 million a year in product and mailing costs, but police departments say they use the one-inch tall stickers to quickly identify unregistered and uninsured vehicles.

automated plate readerPennDOT says it could use the savings to provide grants to police departments to buy and maintain automated license plate readers. The department demonstrated the technology for lawmakers and law enforcement at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

The automated readers can scan thousands of license plates, run the numbers through PennDOT’s registration database, and determine if any vehicles have expired registrations or no insurance coverage. If there is something wrong, the system alerts the officer.

Pennsylvania drivers will still need to have their vehicles registered and inspected come January 1, but PennDOT has plans to make the registration process easier. Drivers who renew online will be able to print a permanent registration card, and one day they could upload registration cards to their smartphones and eliminate the need for a paper copy.

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