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california legislation > AB 2489

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Page 1

CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS
AB 2489 (Hall)
As Amended August 22, 2012
Majority vote

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|ASSEMBLY: |76-0 |(May 14, 2012) |SENATE: |35-3 |(August 28, |
| | | | | |2012)|
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Original Committee Reference: TRANS.

SUMMARY : This bill prohibits a person from altering or covering
a license plate in order to avoid license plate recognition
either visually or by an electronic device.

The Senate amendments :

1)Delete provisions prohibiting a person from displaying a
vehicle license plate that is defaced.

2)Delete definitions for the terms "altered" and "defaced."

3)Delete the provision making it an infraction punishable by a
fine of not more than $250 to display a vehicle license plate
that is altered from its original markings.

4)Prohibit a person from operating a vehicle with a product or
device that obscures, or is intended to obscure the reading or
recognition of a license plate by visual or electronic means
or by an electronic device.

5)Prohibit a person from erasing the reflective coating of,
painting over the reflective coating, or altering a license
plate to avoid visual or electronic capture of the license
plate or its characters by state or local law enforcement.

6)Specify that a conviction for a violation of operating a
vehicle with a product or device to obscure a license plate or
erasing or painting the reflective coating of a license plate
to avoid visual or electronic detection is punishable by a
$250 fine per violation.

7)Incorporates chaptering out amendments.









AB 2489
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EXISTING LAW :

1)Provides that displaying an altered vehicle license plate is
an infraction punishable by a fine of $25.

2)Provides that altering, forging, counterfeiting, or falsifying
a certificate of ownership, registration card, certificate,
license, or license plate, with the intent to prejudice,
damage, or defraud is a felony punishable by imprisonment in
the state prison for between 16 months to three years and a
fine of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000.

AS PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY , this bill:

1)Made it an infraction, punishable by a fine of not more than
$250, to alter or deface a vehicle license plate.

2)Defined "altered" as defacing a license plate to avoid visual
or electronic recognition of the license plate or its
characters.

3)Defined "defacing" to include painting over or erasing the
reflective coating of a license plate.

FISCAL EFFECT : It is likely that the bill in its current form
would continue to result in a minor state revenue increase, to
the extent violations are issued by state law enforcement.

COMMENTS : According to the author and sponsor, criminals are
defacing license plates to avoid being apprehended by law
enforcement that use the Automatic License Plate Recognition
(ALPR) cameras to read license plates and determine whether or
not a vehicle is wanted. This bill would make it an infraction,
punishable by a fine of up to $250, to alter a vehicle's license
plate to avoid detection by ALPR cameras.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department began deploying ALPR
cameras in 2007. The cameras are mounted to the light bar on
patrol cars so that when the patrol car travels along a roadway,
the cameras automatically "read" license plates of all vehicles
that enter the camera's view. The license plate numbers that
are detected are automatically checked against an on-board
computer database of wanted vehicles and the deputy driving the
patrol car is instantly notified if a wanted vehicle is
detected. To be able to read license plates, the cameras scan








AB 2489
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and translate the numbers and letters on the license plate using
an optical character recognition (OCR) program. The system
additionally takes a date and time stamped photograph of
vehicles and registers the exact location where the vehicle was
photographed, using global positioning system (GPS) technology.


These cameras are used extensively throughout the country and
currently over 70 mobile ALPR systems and 21 fixed systems are
deployed by the Los Angeles Sheriffs' Department. Law
enforcement officials claim that these systems have been
instrumental in locating stolen vehicles and apprehending
criminals. Investigators also use information derived from
these systems to determine the whereabouts of stolen vehicles so
that they can be traced and located.

According to the author, since the deployment of APLR camera
systems have been published in the media, many suspects are now
altering license plates of wanted vehicles to avoid detection.
Simple scratching, lacquering, or painting over the reflective
backing of a license plate or tampering with the lettering can
make the plate unreadable by the OCR. Currently, the law
specifies that a vehicle license plate cannot be displayed if it
is altered from its original markings, however, the law does not
specifically define actions that constitute altering a license
plate nor does it specifically address altering of a license
plate to avoid electronic detection. This bill would
specifically address the act of defacing a license plate to
avoid electronic detection and raise the fine for this act from
$25 to $250 bringing the violation in line with similar offenses
such as altering or falsifying a license plate, with the intent
to prejudice, damage, or defraud, which is a felony that carries
a fine of between $500 and $1,000.


Analysis Prepared by
: Victoria Alvarez / TRANS. / (916) 319-
2093

FN: 0005573