California drivers can now use digital license plates on their cars


A digital license plate made by Reviver is displayed in California on May 30, 2018.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images


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Justin Sullivan / Getty Images


A digital license plate made by Reviver is displayed in California on May 30, 2018.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Say goodbye to that rusty piece of metal. California drivers will now be able to obtain digital license plates under a new law.

Golden State was previously experimenting with alternatives to traditional license plates, but a law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom late last month extends the option to all drivers.

License plate-sized screens display the driver’s license plate number and allow motorists to renew their registration automatically. Users can switch between light and dark modes and customize the panels with custom banners.

California Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, who sponsored the legislation, said it would make life easier for drivers.

“It’s a convenient product and I’m all about picking people here in California,” Wilson said, according to ABC30 Fresno.

Reviver, the company that provides digital license plates in California, said the technology is also legal in Arizona and Michigan as well as in Texas for fleet commercial vehicles. The California-based company said 10 other states are also considering adopting digital license plates.

Panel tracking capabilities have raised privacy concerns

The company’s so-called RPlate can be equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) and allows users, including employers, to track a vehicle’s location and mileage.

This ability has surprised privacy advocates, but Reviver said it does not share the data with the California Motor Vehicle Administration or law enforcement.

The RPlate can also flash a message if a vehicle has been reported stolen or if there is an Amber alert, features Wilson believes would be a boon to public safety.

“Looking at the back of the car, if I was driving behind a vehicle and I saw this, I would be worried and I would be on the lookout for what I could probably see,” Wilson said. She said Los Angeles Times That drivers who have privacy concerns can disable the GPS functionality in their cars.

The company reported that about 10,000 California drivers purchased the RPlate during the pilot program, a number that is expected to grow now that digital license plates are available for all 36 million registered vehicles in the state.

A 2019 report from the California DMV found that—aside from a few traffic stops by police who thought digital license plates were illegal—there were no major concerns about the new technology from officials or drivers.

“The Department believes that the digital license plate is a viable alternative to the license plate and recommends that it become a permanent option for California residents,” the agency said.

Reviver offers a battery-powered version of the RPlate that costs $19.95 per month as well as a wired option for commercial vehicles at $24.95 per month.

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