Fla. senator seeks to limit license plate readers

By Mike Vasilinda, Reporter, Capitol News Service
Published On: Jan 23 2014 04:10:35 PM EST
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

New law enforcement technology allows a single patrol car to capture up to 5,000 license plate numbers an hour, computer analyze them, and potentially track where a car has been spotted.

One state lawmaker wants to put the brakes on how the auto recognition system is used.

The devices from Automatic License Plate Recognition System can instantly pick up if someone's got an unpaid parking ticket. With multiple cameras combined, they can even track the movement of a vehicle used in a robbery.

The Florida Highway Patrol is using seven units across the state.

"We are looking for a stole tag, stolen cars," said FHP Capt. Nancy Rasmussen. "The hot list informs us. It's updated every two hours."

The recognition systems can also be used on bridges or toll plazas. State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-Pinellas County, said there are no limits on the information collected and he wants to change that.

"Today, a divorce lawyer, someone could physically stalk you or could stalk you through doing public records request on the license plate readers," Brandes said.

He said he would put a 30-day time limit on storing the information and he would keep others from asking for data about license plate numbers.

"And if the department has a policy that allows them to keep these records for six months, a year, they can pull any time your license plate reader has been -- your license plate has been read over the course of that year," Brandes said.

While the technology is still young, the staff analysis for the legislation envisions millions of records being collected every day and stored indefinitely if limits aren't imposed.

The FHP began using the recognition system in 2011. It keeps records for three years.

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