An extremely controversial surveillance technology is silently cruising the streets and watching where you go, or at least, where your car goes. Automated number plate recognition, or ALPR technology, can be found on police vehicles and at strategic locations all over south Florida, even in Palm Beach County. These readers do a fantastic job of scanning license plates, with the ability to read 1800 plates every minute. Law enforcement agencies tout the effectiveness of the low-cost technology, which they claim has helped them solve several crimes during tough times. Everybody else, however, is concerned over the violation of privacy, especially those who have a suspended license from a DUI in Palm Beach on their record.
ALPR Technology, friend or foe?
In the town of Palm Beach, Florida, ALPR cameras are installed at all major intersections, as well as on all four bridges that lead into the long barrier island on which the town lies. These high-resolution cameras scan the license plates of each and every vehicle coming in and out of Palm Beach. Cameras are also featured on top of police cars in groups of three to capture every angle of every car that is scanned. The photo records the date, time, and location of the incident of simply driving by.
The information captured by these cameras is fed to a laptop within the police car with a GPS system that connects to national databases with information on millions of registered drivers to match plate numbers for wanted vehicles, fugitive warrants, and more. It is reasonable to be concerned if you have a criminal or DUI record, or have had your license suspended.
Benefits of license plate scanners
Due to their low-cost and quick ability, police departments are thrilled to be using license plate readers to hunt for stolen vehicles and people who have warrants out for their arrest. Local law enforcement departments feel they are a huge asset to helping them track down stolen vehicles, robbers, and even helping them to solve homicides or find people who have gone missing. Although they do not target drivers with prior DUI convictions, it is easy to imagine how police can take advantage of finding out if a driver was previously convicted of a DUI in Palm Beach.
It used to be that police officers needed to have a reason to pull you over on the street. There are several signs they actively watch out for when pursuing someone whom they suspect is driving under the influence. Speeding, making wide turns, using the wrong lane or swerving between lanes are red flags that indicate someone is drunk or under the influence of illegal substances. Now that they have introduced these scanners, police are randomly pulling over anyone for any little alert they receive about the license plates scanned. If you have a DUI on record, the ALPR system will detect that and alert the officer. Even if you are driving lawfully, there is an increased chance of being pulled over and investigated illegally. Despite this, there are a few benefits to the technology.
Privacy concerns regarding ALPR technology
ALPR technology has been in use for several years without anyone but the US Department of Justice and local law enforcement agencies throughout Florida knowing about it. Use of the technology is fairly new to most people, including Florida lawmakers. Several concerns arise surrounding the use of the scanners, particularly the fact that their use is an invasive practice that collects data on millions of law-abiding drivers and stores it for months, possibly indefinitely. There are no federal laws regulating how long the data should be kept, although some states are setting their own limits.
The American Civil Liberties Union also points out that the rate of success for these cameras does not justify infringing the privacy rights of millions of drivers. For example, in the state of Maryland, out of 1 million plates scanned only 47 were found to be linked to outstanding crimes. That is a success rate of 0.005%. Many do not believe it is fair to keep data of where everyone is going, whether it’s to a doctor’s office or a place of worship, on what days and at which times for such low success rates. Information police departments previously needed warrants to capture is now being pieced together with information from these cameras, which do not require search warrants to use.
If you are facing a DUI or another criminal charge in Palm Beach, Florida, Brian P. Gabriel at The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel is the tenacious attorney you need on your side. With over 30 years of experience we are your source for legal defense in the area of criminal justice. Call 561-622-5575 for your free consultation today.