It is no secret that the automotive scene is fast evolving technologically, with new advancements coming out regularly. Presently, the rage is all about digital license plates, with many states pushing for their adoption.
What is a digital license plate, and how does it work? Many curious motorists ask this question, eager to learn more about this type of license plate. It is a new concept based on the electrical transmission of data signals. Stick on to learn more about digital plates and whether you should get one.
What Is A Digital License Plate and Its Purpose?
Digital plates, also known as electronic license plates, play the same role as traditional plates of car identification. Unlike conventional tags, which are pieces of bare metal or plastic containing registration information, digital plates have features that allow for the storage and transmission of data signals.
Dean L. Naddeo, an inventor, is responsible for the electronic license plate concept, which he filed for a patent in 2001 and published a year later. The purpose of this car add-on is to display car information and make it easy for relevant authorities to access the data when necessary.
Parts of A Digital License Plate
A breakdown of the parts of the electrical registration plate is vital to understanding its functionality. The digital display is the plate’s primary component, tasked with showing data like the plate number, registration status, and customizable texts.
The electrical display is made of e-ink or electric paper. These materials reflect ambient light; hence, they are easy to read, even under bright sunlight, and won’t inconvenience other road users. A rectangular housing and heavy-duty lens cover the license plate assembly, protecting it from various degradation agents.
Deeper into this accessory, you have the central processing unit, which coordinates several functions, primarily gathering and sending data to necessary recipients or the display. The storage or memory chip stores information.
The e-plate works as a security installation, supported by disabling units and a GPS tracker. The disabling units are car sensors that detect tampering and send signals to the vehicle computer system to shut down the electrical system, and the car won’t start.
The GPS tracker makes it easy to locate your car if it is stolen. Plus, the plate will throw a ‘STOLEN’ message in case of theft.
The two types of digital license tags are hard-wired and battery-powered and differ depending on their power source. The former gets its power from the vehicle’s power system and has GPS, while the latter, as its name hints, runs on batteries and lacks a GPS.
Are digital license plates legal? You can drive with a digital car registration plate if you bought and registered it in California, Arizona, or Michigan. In Texas, these advanced license plates are available for commercial vehicles. All the states partner with Reviver, the sole company dealing in the plates.
How to Activate A Digital License Plate?
You should activate your digital license tag before using it. As hinted earlier, you can only get the license plates from Reviver if you are in the USA. Pick the preferred Reviver digital license plate type and register it with the relevant regulatory body, like the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You now follow the highlighted steps to activate it.
- Create a Reviver account and download the app. Alternatively, you can download the app and register on it.
- Launch the app on your device and turn on the license plate by long pressing an oval button. Allow your mobile phone to pair with the digital plate.
- Take photos of your current plate, ensuring you capture all the relevant details. You should also send your car’s registration details. Reviver’s team takes 1-3 business days to confirm the info, and if approved, you will receive a notification in your email.
- Pair your plate with your device to update your details, which will reflect on the display.
Installation of the plate is easy, with a user manual to guide you. Start by fixing the bracket, and ensure you have the suitable screws for a proper fit before installing the license plate. A ‘Detached’ message on the display indicates the tag is not correctly contacting the bracket. Adjust the plate accordingly until the message disappears.
Fitting in a wired digital tag can be tricky. Contact support for help if you cannot install this car accessory. Please note that there is no Reviver front plate; you must use the traditional metal plate for the front.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of Reviver electronic license plates, or RPlates, as popularly known, depends on the type and plan you select. Currently, both wired and battery-powered RPlates cost $599. You may pay an extra $150 for professional installation of the wired RPlate, bringing your expenditure to $749.
You need a service plan for the optimal performance of your e-plates. The plans allow you to achieve the following.
- Fast renewal of your car’s registration via the app
- Display of ‘STOLEN’ text in case of theft
- Digital registration updates
- Enables location and geo-fencing services
The initial purchase price of Reviver digital license tags includes a 60-day plan. After this period, you should buy the service plans at $8 per month or $75 annually for battery-powered license plates. You pay $10 monthly or $95 yearly for wired digital license plates.
Pros of Digital License Plate
One of the many digital license plate benefits is displaying up-to-date information. Details captured include the registration plate number, expiry date, and state of issue, which are essential to police and other relevant authorities. The electric paper or ink display is easy to read, even when the sun is too bright.
Below are other advantages of electronic license plates.
- You can customize the display to feature preferred texts and graphics
- The plates look stylish and will do justice to your car’s aesthetics
- Boosted security courtesy of the GPS and sensors
- The dynamic display will show various messages, like ‘stolen’ in case of car theft.
- Easy license plate renewal
- Easy to install, provided you follow the user manual
- A robust frame to curb wear and tear
Digital license tags are costlier than regular ones, which can be discouraging to many car owners. Besides purchasing these accessories, you must subscribe to a monthly or yearly service plan, further hiking their price.
There is also the question about their legality and availability. Presently, the e-plates are legal in California, Arizona, and Michigan. Texas permits their use on commercial vehicles. You might get in trouble if you use them in other states.
Regarding availability, only one company manufactures the plates. It means the plates’ supply is currently limited, though it might grow as more states legalize their use.
Data privacy is another pressing issue with these plates. Like most connected electronics, they can fall victim to hacking and data theft.
Are Digital License Plates A Good Idea?
The digital license plate is a new concept in the automobile tech scene, with few states fully embracing it. This development is excellent, with states like California expecting a drop in the expenditure used by its DMV.
You will appreciate the several perks of the e-plates, such as showing updated registration information. The e-plate display uses e-ink, which is easy to read, even in direct sunlight, without other road users suffering from glare.
Electronic registration plates enhance vehicle security in many ways. The wired variety comes with a GPS for effortless tracking. Sensors turn off the car’s power system if they detect disturbance with the plates.
The downside of digital tags is that they are costly to buy, plus you should subscribe to a service plan for their efficiency. Additionally, there is a concern about data privacy and hacking. Overall, these advanced car add-ons are an excellent idea, as they have many benefits rather than setbacks.
Can Digital License Plates Be Tracked?
One of the advantages of digital license plates is that you can track them. The trackability depends on the type of plate that you get. Wired RPlates have a built-in GPS, while its battery-powered counterpart lacks it.
If possible, you should pick the wired RPlate, as you can track its movements, though you may have to pay extra for installation.
What State Has Digital License Plates?
Electronic license tags are still a new development, with a few states adopting them. Currently, you can use digital plates in California, Arizona, and Michigan. Drivers with vehicles registered in these states can drive anywhere in the country with digital plates. Texas partially permits the tags, but only for commercial vehicles.
Other states are still debating motions to allow the plates. Florida passed a bill permitting the use of electronic plates starting July 1st, 2023. The expectation is that many states will follow suit soon.
Are Digital License Plates Legal in Florida?
Florida joins California, Michigan, and Arizona as the only states where digital license plates are legal. The Florida Senate committee passed a bill that permits the use of e-plates on its roadways as of July 1st, 2023.
The concept is still in its early stages in Florida, and sooner the electronic tags will be commonplace. Reviver, the firm responsible for the manufacturing and supplying of digital license plates, is eyeing the Florida market and other states that will legalize the new designs.
What Is the License Plate Camera Technology?
As its name hints, license plate recognition (LPR) camera technology uses cameras to detect, interpret, and store images of car registration plates. It is crucial in traffic control, tolling, fleet management, mass surveillance, and general security.
The cameras are the primary component of the license plate camera technology, responsible for taking high-quality images and videos of the license tag. Infrared lighting allows the camera to record during the day or night conveniently.
The recordings undergo optical character recognition (OCR). Here, the system’s firmware converts the characters in the license plate to alphanumeric figures for identification against a database. The cameras are usually placed at suitable points like intersections, where there is immense traffic.
Some drivers use radar detectors like the Uniden R7 and R8 to detect and beat the LPR cameras to varying degrees of success.
Are Digital License Plates Legal in Georgia?
Georgia has enacted laws that permit the use of e-plates. You should visit Georgia’s Department of Revenue to apply for an electronic license tag. Before approval, you must always have the traditional metal plate with you. You can drive in Georgia with digital license plates registered in states that authorize their use.
Are Digital License Plates Legal in Arizona?
The state of Arizona is one of the earliest adopters of digital license plates. These new-age registration tags are legal so long as they work on devices approved by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). Reviver is the only entity authorized to manufacture and supply e-license plates to Arizona car owners.
Are Digital License Plates Legal in Maryland?
Maryland was the fourth state and the first on the East Coast to test digital plates. This was back in 2019 when the state launched a two-year pilot program to check the new license tags. The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Agency (MDOT MVA) tried the plates on 20 vehicles from its fleet and two on Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) cars.
Despite the optimistic start, Maryland has yet to consent to using electronic license plates. Nevertheless, with many states approving the plates, it is a matter of time before Maryland follows suit.
Why Is A Digital License Plate So Expensive?
The major complaint about digital license plates is their costliness. Besides the registration fee, you must buy the registration plate, which costs around $599 and may be higher if you need help with installation. You also pay for a service plan, going for $8-$10 monthly.
While the price might be prohibitive, you get your money’s worth. You enjoy perks like easy registration updates that don’t require visiting your local DMV. Moreover, the information displayed is accurate, and the plates can help you track a stolen car.
In short, the price of digital plates is due to the electric components and high-quality materials used that ensure you have the best experience.
What is a digital license plate? Simple, the future. As mentioned in this discussion, digital or electronic license tags are a fairly new development, and a handful of states are adopting it, with more expected to hop onto the bandwagon.
This electronic device captures your updated registration details, and you can have customized messages on the display (with permission from relevant authorities). Besides being a car-identifying accessory, it is also a handy security installation that will help you if your vehicle goes missing.
Before installing the digital license plate, you should ensure it is legal in your state. Moreover, pick the best between the battery-powered and wired versions.