Lawmakers could clear way for digital license plates

The new license plates would be "dynamic" screens that could display plate numbers and registration status.

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  • | 1:55 p.m. February 23, 2022
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 Floridians would be able to turn on digital license plates under a measure en route to the full House.

With lawmakers again looking to revamp the state’s license-plates program, the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 23, approved a measure (HB 91) that would direct the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to set up a program by July 1, 2023, that would allow motorists to move from traditional license plates to more-expensive “dynamic” screens that could display plate numbers and registration status.

The plates would have to be linked to the internet so they could be used for electronic tolling and broadcasting emergency alerts.

Separately, the committee backed a proposal (HB 67) that would cut the maximum number of specialty plates from 150 to 125, while allowing the pre-order process to begin on five new specialty plates: for Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami CF; to promote swimming through a Florida Swims tag; for Down Syndrome awareness; to raise awareness of gopher tortoises; and for the Take Stock in Children of Florida non-profit program.

Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota, said limiting the maximum number of specialty plates would reduce government. The state now has 123 available specialty tags.

“We now employ 40 people around the state simply to manage the specialty license-plate program,” Gregory said. “What you're really doing is paying government employees to raise money for non-profit organizations. I'm not sure that's the right use of government resources.”

With Gregory acknowledging that his proposal likely wouldn’t reduce the number of workers assigned to specialty plates, Rep. Brad Drake supported keeping a higher cap.

“Let the people that help the children have a license plate,” Drake, R-Eucheeanna, said. “Let the people that take care of the sides of the roads and beautify the landscape.”

Each of the five proposed plates would have to attract 3,000 pre-sales within two years before they could go on the road and, as with most other specialty plates, maintain that number to continue. The bill is now ready to go to the full House.

Meanwhile, the digital plate bill would require contracting with a provider on a system that could be used with current automated license plate readers.

Sponsor Nicholas Duran, D-Miami, said in a prepared statement that the bill "helps pave the way into a more connected future."

“Florida has always been on the cutting edge of technology, and allowing the use of this technology can bring large-scale efficiency and savings to the over 17 million registered vehicles in our state,” Duran said.

The bill would require motorists going digital to buy metal plates.

House and Senate staff analyses said digital plates are used in California and Arizona, with about 4,000 vehicles using California-based ReviverMX’s “Rplates.” Reviver’s “Rplates” start at $899 or $19.95 a month with a 48-month agreement.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday is scheduled to take up the Senate version of the digital-plates bill (SB 1178).


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