This report highlights the use of new license plate scanning technology by Texas law enforcement to find stolen cars and apprehend fugitives. Currently employed by the Dallas County Sheriffs as well as many other Texas police departments, this high tech monitoring and scanning system can check thousands of vehicle license plates. It matches plates with a database for driver criminal warrants, suspended licenses and other criminal court or Texas Department of Transportation red flags associated with the vehicle or registered owner.
The automatic license plate scanner system works via several video cameras* (see comment below) mounted in different spots on police vehicles. They are able to scan both moving cars and parked cars, while the police cruiser is either stationary or moving. The video camera is connected to software that captures license plates in real time. Those license tags are scanned via computer optical character recognition system. The plate number is then matched with a database of licenses with known issues or warrants, in real time. If a suspicious plate is flagged, the officer inside the vehicle is alerted in real time, and the vehicle is pulled over or impounded on the spot.
Police cars have had laptop computers able to check license plates for some time. But moving from a police officer manually inputting a few suspicious plates per hour to an automated system tracking every plate in view, up to thousands per hour is a quantum leap in tracking ability.
What does this mean for the average citizen? Many people have serious concerns about the big brother aspects of this constant tracking and monitoring. License plates that are scanned are typically stored for 30 days, or longer. This means if you were scanned, police can go back and find out your exact location where that happened in the past.
It also means that if you happen to have a criminal warrant for failure to appear in court, the likelihood of getting caught is significantly higher. If you have a warrant, and haven’t been caught and arrested, now is the time to talk to a lawyer and find out if you can fix the problem. If you are arrested and in jail, your ability to work out a favorable deal is in serious doubt.
Or if you are driving on a suspended license, same deal. You just can’t expect to get away with this for long. It is simply a risk that is not worth taking.
If you are charged with a criminal offense in Texas, please contact our criminal defense attorneys to take advantage of our free consultation offer. Find out what you are up against, and what we can do to help, with no obigation.