Our License Plates Are Going Digital — What To Expect

In California and Arizona, if you’ve been seeing black & white digital license plates, you’re eyes aren’t fooling you.

Digital License Plate by Reviver | Credit: Reviver.com/rplate

Reviver, the leading company in reinventing the boring and dull metallic license plate has been making their way throughout California (and more states in the works), with cool personalization features and over-the-air vehicle registration renewal capabilities.

Revival’s Rplate arrives in a slim, sleek, easy-to-install cool form factor that has a very easy-to-read minimalistic design that’s easy on the eyes, while bringing your license plate into the future. The plate itself can go from dark mode to light mode, adjusting to sunlight or the night as the consumer pleases.

Meanwhile, in the state of Florida, a new bill (SB1178) was pushed through the Florida Senate Committee to make digital license plates legal in Florida as of July 1, 2023.

Another company known as Airplate has a similar approach to Reviver’s, but with more aesthetics and features such as color displays and LED lights with “Color Codes” that display different statuses:

Color Code Tech by Airplate | Credit: TheAirplate.com

Airplate’s technology is being pushed to be publicly availably by 2027, as stated on their website. These fascinating new advancements in digital license plates would be greatly beneficial in just an analog license plate. These are smarter, which multiple uses that go beyond what’s been mentioned on their websites.

But questions come to mind as we change from analog to digital…

What are the potential pros and cons to having these new digital license plates?

PROS:

  • Automatic tag renewals can be done as simple as paying online, your digital license plate updates automatically and instantaneously.
  • No long waits at your local DMV.
  • Autonomous self-driving vehicles could display “Autonomous” or a special designated color to let drivers know which vehicles are being driven by AI, or by actual people.
  • Creating a custom license plate could be as simple as typing it into a mobile app.
  • Instead of a police officer taking a risk walking up to your car window, a digital license plate could possess the capability of “zapping” it to the police officer directly to their onboard computer. Improved safety and faster way to transmit the information that police officer would need to run a quick background check.
  • Automatic Tag Theft Reporting.
  • Pay tolls automatically via your digital license plate. Stress-free driving and reduces congestion on the highway.
  • Amber Alerts could be displayed on the tags. If a missing report gets filed or if your child is missing, rest at ease there’s a better way to find the person-at-large. These plates are much more visible with LED technology that display much better in both day and night in comparison to standard plates.
  • Digital license plates would likely contain their own on-board battery which could work efficiently for several years before another battery replacement is required.
  • DMV’s could operate more efficiently. State businesses would save more money by not having to mail license plates and tag renewals through the mail to millions of drivers.
  • “Animated Turn Signal” could accompany your standard turn signal, making you much more visible to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Digital License Plates could display “STOLEN CAR” or “STOLEN TAG” on the plate once it has been reported, making it easy for authorities to pull the suspect over, as well as finding your stolen vehicle or tag much faster than current methods — making criminals think twice about committing a crime.
  • Parking Meter Integration: Tags could possibly display a timer that sync’s with parking meters, displaying a countdown of how long that car will be parked in a specific spot.
  • Monetization? No talks about it yet, but imagine if consumers could monetize and earn money by displaying city-driven ads while cars are stopped at a red light or while it’s parked? It hasn’t been spoken of, but I wouldn’t doubt this becomes a possibility. It would certainly entice people to switch to digital license plates and ditch their old-fashioned standard plates.

CONS:

  • With fancy digital technology could come higher costs. Making these plates obviously costs money. Reviver’s Rplate and RPlate pro easily cost anywhere from $499-$799* as of 2022. No word yet on what Airplate’s tags would cost. But would the cost add up to the benefits? (I believe so!) Just as anything new rolls out, it’s always expensive, but the costs may drive down with time as more people opt into having them.
  • Digital license plates could record telemetric data, such as your mileage, how fast you’re going etc. In one turn of the coin, this could link with car insurance companies and perhaps provide you savings on your car insurance plan, but being tracked makes people uneasy — plus, if you’re having an off-day, that data that’s being recorded could backfire. This isn’t a current option of any of the plates mentioned above, but more of an idea.
  • Is one’s personal data sold and is it stored securely? That’s a major concern and likely the biggest one. Police could simply use data to trace your location at any given second. Indeed, some legislature would be necessary to prevent this from happening and who would have access to this kind of information.
  • Cyber-attacks or hackable plates are a major concern. Imagine a network of tags displaying something completely irrelevant to your actual license plate numbers?

Many hypothetical questions come to mind, but I’m feeling positive these issues will be addressed way before these go into full effect.

Overall, if a legislature can be passed that informs everyone on how data is used, and what (or if) certain things can be displayed publicly such as your registration status (which can be embarrassing), a digital license plate could outweigh the cons.

Reviver and Airplate are the companies leading the pack currently on the digital license programs. It’s exciting to see how fast it comes into effect. Three states California, Arizona (and Florida now) are going full force into adopting digital license plates and overall, it may very well improve our way of life.

Long visits and waits at the DMV is a major pro in my book!

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