State Statutes Regulating the Use of Automated License Plade Readers ALPR or ALPR Data

Automated License Plate Readers | State Statutes Regulating Their Use


Automated license plate readers (ALPRs) capture computer-readable images that allow law enforcement to compare plate numbers against plates of stolen cars or cars driven by individuals wanted on criminal charges. The devices are mounted on police cars, road signs or traffic lights and capture thousands of images of plates.

The data collected can enhance law enforcement’s ability to investigate and enforce the law, but also raise concerns that the information collected may be inaccurate, placed into databases and shared without restrictions on use, retained longer than necessary, and used or abused in ways that could infringe on individuals’ privacy.

State Statutes

State statutes relating to the use of ALPRs or the retention of data collected by ALPRs are shown below. See also bills enacted and pending in 2013-14 for updates.

State | Year | Law


Arkansas (2013)

Ark. Code §§ 12-12-1801 to 12-12-1805

Provides for limited use by law enforcement. Prohibits data from being preserved for more than 150 days.

California (2011)

Calif. Veh. Code § 2413

Provides that the California Highway Patrol may retain data from a license plate reader for no more than 60 days.

Maine (2009)

29-A M.R.S.A. § 2117-A(2)

Prohibits the use of automatic license plate recognition systems except for certain public safety purposes. Provides that data collected is confidential and may be used only for law enforcement purposes. Data collected may not be stored more than 21 days.

Maryland (2014)

2014 S.B. 192, Chap. 192


Prohibits the use of captured plate data except for a legitimate law enforcement purpose. Requires the State Police to adopt procedures to address who has access to the data and training for those individuals and to create an audit process. Provides that data gathered by an automatic license plate reader system are not subject to disclosure under the Public Information Act.

New Hampshire (2007)

N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 261.75-b, 236.130

Prohibits the use of automatic license plate recognition systems or vehicle surveillance except in specific circumstances.

Tennessee (2014)

2014 S.B. 1664, Public Chapter 625

Provides that any captured automatic license plate data collected by a government entity may not be stored for more than 90 days unless they are part of an ongoing investigation, and in that case provides for data to be destroyed after the conclusion of the investigation.

Utah (2013)

Utah Code Ann. §§ 41-6a-2001, -2002, -2003, -2004, -2005

Prohibits the use of automatic license plate reader systems except by a law enforcement agency for specific purposes and for limited other entities and purposes. Provides that captured plate data are a protected record under the Government Records Access and Management Act, if the captured plate data are maintained by a governmental entity. Provides that captured plate data may only be shared for specified purposes, may only be preserved for a certain time and may only be disclosed pursuant to a disclosure order or a warrant.

Vermont (2013)

23 V.S.A. Section 1607, 1608

(Repealed effective July 1, 2015)

Requires a law enforcement officer to be certified in the use of an automated license plate reader to operate such a system. Provides that active system data may only be accessed by an officer with a legitimate law enforcement purpose for the data. Limits retention of information gathered through use of an ALPR system to 18 months after the date it was obtained.


Attorney General Opinions and Directives

State | Year | Citation


New Jersey (December 2010)

Attorney General Directive No. 2010-5

Provides guidelines “to ensure that ALPRs are used only for bona fide law enforcement purposes, and that the data collected by these devices are used in accordance with substantive standards and procedural safeguards that appropriately balance the need for law enforcement agencies to prevent and respond to terrorism and other forms of crime against the legitimate privacy interests of persons operating motor vehicles on the roadways of this state.” Provides that records of ALPR activity and access to ALPR data shall be maintained by the department for a period of five years.

Virginia (February 2013)

Attorney General Opinion 12-073

Opines that the Data Act does not preclude law enforcement agencies from maintaining, using and disseminating personal information collected by a license plate reader (LPR), provided such data specifically pertain to investigations and intelligence gathering relating to criminal activity. LPR data collected in the continuous, passive manner, that is not properly classified as “criminal intelligence information” and not otherwise relating directly to law enforcement investigations and intelligence-gathering respecting criminal activity, is subject to the Data Act’s strictures and prohibitions, and it may not lawfully be collected through use of LPR technology.


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