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When you think of surveillance and privacy invasion, you probably envision NSA-type operations such as the monitoring of phone records. However, if you’re a driver, you’re likely being tracked every time you hit the roads by a device you probably don’t even know is there: a license plate scanner.
License Plate Map

Photo courtesy of Bill Gracey

How do license plate scanners work?

Appearing similar to a closed circuit camera, license plate scanners are mounted over busy intersections or parking lots, or directly on police cars. Initially intended as a tool to locate stolen cars or vehicles linked to a fugitive, the scanners can identify thousands of license plates per day.

Who has access to license plate scanner data?

A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reveals that the vast majority of police agencies use license plate scanners. However, the police do not keep the information they acquire to themselves. They also share the millions of scans accumulated over the years across departments and with the federal government.

Police view the scanners’ databases as a gold mine for detectives who have hit a roadblock in their investigations. Many people, especially those who have been accused of crimes, are worried about the possibility of license plate scanners to become a powerful traffic search engine.

How might this affect my case?

License plate scanner data can blow major holes in your defense by making it very easy to verify where you have driven. You might be tracked in front of the house of a person you claim not to know, or in a city you claim not to have been. However, it’s important to note that license plate “misreads” are not all that uncommon, and most departments do not require officers to correct these misreads.

To see details of license plate data collection procedures in Las Vegas, visit the ACLU map. To learn more about your rights, contact Gabriel L. Grasso, the leading defense attorney in Las Vegas at (702) 868-8866.

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Featured image courtesy of BruceEmmerling