For now, they will only be on a few state vehicles.
Frederick, Md (KM). Some Maryland state vehicle will be sporting digital license plates. The state is participating in a two-year pilot program to try out these electronic plates on 22 of its vehicles, mostly form the Motor Vehicle Administration but a few from the Maryland Transportation Authority.
“Maryland is always looking for new ways we can utilize technology to provide service to our customers. And this was one way that we thought we could explore that,” says MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer.
She says in some ways, these plates are very similar to the regular metal license plates on vehicles around the state. “These are more like a tablet. Same size as your current tag, but very similar to a current tag. It’s says Maryland at the top; it has the website at the bottom. It has the tag number. it has expiration dates. That will be reflected as well,” she says.
But, Nizer says, these plates contain information which can be updated. “If your vehicle happened to be stolen, we could display that right on the vehicle which would be a great tool for law enforcement to help recover it,” she says. “Things like Amber Alerts, severe weather in the area, we can display those public safety messages. And sort of what we’d be looking at with the pilot.”
But she acknowledges that this could present some privacy issues, especially if the plates indicate that the vehicle has been stolen, or the motorist’s license is suspended, or the tags are expired and need to be renewed. But Nizer says there is an upside. “Certainly, if your vehicle was stolen that’s something you want the word to be out there, and individuals to provide tips to law enforcement if they see that on a vehicle,” she says.,
And, she notes, some motorists may want to be reminded that their vehicle registration is expiring and needs to renewed. “I think in some ways it would be helpful to customers to see that it’s expired. Sometimes, we don’t look at those months and years stickers and recognized that I was supposed to bring in my registration. So it could be a reminder to the customer themselves,” says Nizer.
If the pilot program works, Nizer says these digital plates could be available to all drivers, if they want them. She says it would be “an option that customers choose to have.”
These digital license plates are being provided at no cost to Maryland by Reviver, a company based on the Silicon Valley in California. This is the first such pilot program on the East Coast, the MVA says.
Digital license plates are legal only in Arizona, California, and Michigan.
By Kevin McManus