Add Calvert County to the list of law enforcement agencies who are scanning every license plate they come near on the road.
Previous reports have noted their use by the Maryland State Police statewide, and by the Charles County Sheriffs department.
These devices are rapidly becoming standard equipment on police cruisers, since they save manpower and generate revenue on their own by instantly identifying driver’s with license suspensions, outstanding criminal warrants, and even potentially parking tickets and municipal back taxes.
These systems are able to scan thousand of license plates per hour with high speed cameras mounted on police vehicles, and connected to computers inside. All plate tags are matched with a database of those associated with cars that may have been stolen, associated with amber alerts, or driver/car owner data that may have any other legal issues.
Police officer’s in the vehicle are instantly alerted to a suspected stolen car the moment they drive near it. Naturally, this is an extremely effective method of using police time efficiently.
The open question of concern to civil libertarians and privacy advocates is “what happens with all this collected data for the 99.99% of people who have done nothing wrong? Their data is still stored and tracked, and that information could be used for illegal monitoring and tracking.
When a photo of a license plate tag is snapped, the photo is stored, along with the date and time, and the exact location of the vehicle as identified by GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) identification.
With all the scanners on the road, it’s easy to imagine how the government can mine this data and put together a historical record of your movements by listing each the time your car was scanned.
They can make lists of every car that was parked near a political demonstration, for example, and then go through all of the other tracked locations of those cars to try to identify any “suspicious” activity, even if it is all completely innocent and %100 legal.
The law has not caught up to many of the implications of the tracking technologies currently employed by law enforcement.
But the bottom line for anyone who may have a suspended driver’s license in Maryland, lapsed insurance, open warrant for failure to appear in court, or other legal issues, beware! These days, you cannot expect to drive and not be identified and caught.
If you have an outstanding criminal warrant, or are arrested for driving on a suspended license, please contact our Maryland criminal defense lawyers to find out how we can help fix your legal problems.