California Considers Selling Ads on Digital License Plates

California is considering electronic license plates to generate revenueIn these lean times states are looking for novel ways to raise money to fund services. The latest of those comes from California where the state legislature is considering a bill to research the idea of using electronic license plates on cars and trucks.

The move is intended as a moneymaker for a state facing a $19 billion deficit, The Associated Press reports. The high-tech license plates would mimic standard ones when vehicles are in motion, but would switch to digital ads or other messages when stopped in traffic or at traffic signals. License plate numbers would remain visible at all times on some section of the screen.

Amber Alerts and Traffic Updates

The plates could also be used to broadcast special messages, such as traffic information or Amber Alerts, which alert residents to missing children, AP said.

If the bill's author, state Sen. Curren Price (D-Los Angeles), has his way, California would be the first state in the nation to implement the technology, which would require review by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles.

"We're just trying to find creative ways of generating additional revenues," Price said. "It's an exciting marriage of technology with need, and an opportunity to keep California in the forefront." The devices would also cut registration and other costs, he said.

The digital plates could also be used to display personal messages, said M. Conrad Jordan, chief executive of San Francisco-based Smart Plate, which is developing the technology, but hasn't yet reached production.

"The idea is not to turn a motorist's vehicle into a mobile billboard," Jordan told AP. "But rather to create a platform for motorists to show their support for existing good working organizations."
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