2:55 PM AKDT, October 26, 2011
Indiana State Police announced they will soon use technology to find drivers with invalid or suspended licenses.
Police began testing the License Plate Reader (LPR) technology in June 2011. ISP said after several refinements made to the LPR system, the system successfully reads Indiana license plates and the number of false readings has been reduced.
ISP said there are currently four LPR equipped police vehicles in Lowell, Bremen, Putnamville and Sellersburg.
The LPR works by constantly scanning license plates – at a rate of up to 1,800 per minute - as the police cruiser passes by vehicles while parked or when vehicles pass the state police vehicle on the highway. They are capable of reading license plates from every state in the union, plus Canada.
Right now, the system only allows troopers to verify whether a car is stolen, or involved in any other crime, or part of a silver or amber alert.
ISP Master Trooper Todd Miles said if the car comes up having an alert they'll make sure it is the person with the suspended or revoked license who is driving and not someone else. they will verify who is driving before going forward.
"In the right officer's hands, it could be an instrumental piece of equipment for us to use on a daily basis. You know, if it could help us get revoked or suspended drivers off the road -I mean -that does nothing but good," Miles said.
ISP said of the more than 4 million licensed drivers in Indiana, there are more than 222,000 suspended drivers and over 30,000 other drivers who have had their license to drive revoked for five to ten years or even for the rest of their life.
The LPR system’s goal is to help prevent accidents similar to the one that killed a construction worker in early October. Police said Spencer Woods, 29, sped through a construction zone around, hitting a construction flagger who was directing traffic away from crews building a barrier on Interstate 465. Woods' license was suspended at the time of the crash. He also had an eight-page driving record that showed several citations for driving without a license and without insurance.
ISP said by the end of 2011, LPRs will be connected with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicle database. Doing so will allow police to identify the owners of the vehicles who have a suspended license or a habitual traffic violator. Police said the system will also be capable of identifying vehicles with expired license plates over 30 days, but less than a year from expiration.
“We’re very excited to put this technology to use in Indiana. People who drive with a suspended or revoked license pose an increased risk to the responsible licensed drivers in Indiana,” said Major Brent Johnson, commander of the ISP Operations Support Division. “This technology will undoubtedly save lives by helping our troopers identify unlicensed drivers and get them off the road.”
In addition to tracking unlicensed drivers, ISP said the LPR will alert the trooper to any license plate read by the system that has been entered in the nation’s national database, including license plates listed as stolen or associated to cars that have been stolen or involved with some criminal activity. The LPR system could also identify a car being driven by a missing person or a Silver Alert victim as well as vehicles associated with an AMBER Alert.
Each LPR system costs about $22,000. The four systems now in use were purchased by the state police with grant funding from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.