State troopers in Texas will soon be patrolling with the most modern law enforcement and surveillance tools available. According to the DPS, 2000 highway patrol units will be equipped with automatic license plate scanning systems connected to wireless data networks in a $15 million upgrade.
These systems can scan thousands of vehicle license plates per hour, alerting the trooper to any violations of vehicles withing scanning range, including cars flagged as stolen, drivers with outstanding criminal warrants, suspended drivers licenses, and any other identifying flags input into the network.
The primary benefit of these systems, say it’s proponents, is the time and labor saving efficiencies it provides to Texas state troopers in their daily duties. Current information about any car they stop is instantly displayed on the computer. And as they patrol, the system is always scanning cars within camera range, so the officer or trooper is instantly alerted when a vehicle or driver should be stopped and investigated.
The data tracking of scanned license plates can be shared with other law enforcement agencies, such as homeland security. All the perfectly innocent license plate data captured is stored with it’s time and location. Anyone with access to these databases can track the historical movements and times where that vehicle may have been scanned in the past.
The first areas where these systems will be running will be the state trooper barracks of the greater Houston and Austin areas.
In other news, some Texas citizens are apparently very concerned about the lack of enforcement of the law requiring a front license plate. This is a minor issue, and results in a fine of $200, which can be reduced to $10 if quickly corrected (Under section 502.404 – Texas Transportation Code).
This is also something that can be potentially flagged by automatic license plate readers, but is it worth the effort?
Some Texas police suggest that cars stopped for missing front plate also sometimes have other criminal activity that is identified and caught after a stop for this reason. Some charges that result are DWI or drug possession.
But is a missing front plate any more likely to result in criminal arrests than any other random reason for pulling someone over? Sounds statistically unlikely, and no data is provided to support that conclusion.
If you are charged with any crime in Texas, please contact us for a free consultation on your charges. We will evaluate your case and suggest defense options, with no further obligation.