Police use plate scanners to catch violators

Maryland state police are using cameras to scan license plates to bust violators. Troopers say so far the system has resulted in hundreds of tickets and thousands of dollars worth of outstanding fines.

The mobile license plate reader emits a sound and alert once it detects a suspicious plate.

During a ride-along with a reporter, Maryland state trooper Steven Pollack pulled over a car and searched the driver after such an alert.

The driver was arrested for theft. “He openly admitted he bought the tags from a bar from Anne Arundel,” Pollack said.

Officers say this is just one example of how license plate readers can catch traffic violators in seconds. One of the databases the system uses is the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, to check for stolen cars and wanted persons.

Cameras on the back of the police cruiser take pictures of every license plate that passes. The information goes into a server to be scanned. If a violator is caught, the trooper is immediately alerted.

One of the most common violations is expired emissions testing. For other infractions like suspended tags, the information is sent to MVD and the car is towed.

Pollack says the system can scan 40 times as much data a day compared to the manual way.

“I could maybe check 75 to 100 tags a day, whereas yesterday, I scanned 4,000 vehicles,” he said.

Maryland is expanding the program. By the end of the summer, there will be 100 more mobile and fixed units. State troopers are planning on monthly enforcement sweeps.