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Digital license plates? Arizona, California already testing them

Posted at 7:36 AM, Apr 18, 2018

PHOENIX, Arizona — A license plate could be the very thing driving technology forward and it is being tested in Arizona. 

The Arizona Department of Transportation said it is working with the technology company "Reviver" to test digital license plates on about a dozen of its vehicles. Spokesperson Doug Nick described it basically as an iPad that goes in place of the plate on the back of the vehicle. 

Arizona is just one of two states that currently have these plates on the road — the other is California, Reviver reps said.

Nick said ADOT is always open to innovation and picking our state to test is a no-brainer, especially with our weather.  

"Arizona has always been a really good state for innovation," he said. "Car companies have tested here for years to see how their vehicles perform, so it's not a stretch to say, 'Well, let's take a look at how some of the accessories, like a license plate. How does that perform on a vehicle?'" 

As testing continues, the goal is to go far beyond just displaying the plate. 

"You can update this [the license plate] and it has the capabilities of potentially having other functions on there... maybe messages that are of help to the public, like Amber Alerts," Nick said. "That might be something that could be done on this."

It could also alert police if a vehicle is stolen, if a registration tag is expired, or more consumer-focused items like displaying specialty plates. 

But, all of that is still in the early stages of testing. 

Could digital plates save ADOT money?

Representative Michelle Ugenti-Rita introduced a bill into the state legislator this year that would eliminate vehicle registration stickers, possibly saving $1.8 million in labor and postage.

ADOT did not comment on the bill and is not yet clear on the kind of money-saving aspects the technology may provide.

Nick said the state has been testing it for less than a year and there is no set timeline on when the testing will stop or if it will expand.