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Criminal defense against license plate scanners

A development in road monitoring for local police may have a significant impact on local drivers. Police officers in eastern PA are putting their eyes on the road with the enhanced capabilities of a license plate scanner, which will be installed in one of the department’s cruisers. Authorities say they hope the equipment will allow them to be more vigilant in the community. The device alerts the officer in the vehicle if a scanned license plate belongs to someone who may have an outstanding violation. The equipment can also be used in tandem with an investigation, as the list for targeted license plates will be updated every 24 hours. Even though authorities are heralding the arrival of the equipment as a boon to public safety, representatives from civil liberties groups say the systems associated with the technology store too much personal data. Law-abiding citizens’ movements can be tracked, because their information is stored for several months at a time. Ultimately, those groups argue that law-abiding citizens do not deserve to be monitored so extensively. They are urging the adoption of policies that would require the deletion of data that did not yield positive hits. Departments in other areas admit that they keep the information stored by their equipment for up to five years. Those departments report that their equipment has been used not only to identify small problems such as unregistered vehicles. It has also assisted with Amber Alerts and making felony arrests. It is still not entirely clear how the scanner will affect potential criminal defense efforts as of now, though all residents will apparently enjoy less privacy on the roads. Evidence obtained through the scanner may provide additional information for prosecuting attorneys. Therefore, defense lawyers will need to create new strategies to combat the device. Those who have been arrested as a result of the scanner may benefit from consulting a qualified criminal defense attorney to learn more about their legal rights and responsibilities.

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