Florida motorists may soon sport digital license plates under a bill cleared Thursday by a Senate subcommittee.
The bill (SB 862) would kick off a one-year digital license plate pilot program on state-owned vehicles beginning in July. After that, digital plates would become available to all motorists.
Republican Sen. Joe Gruters of Sarasota is the bill sponsor.
“This is about embracing the technology of the future,” Gruters said.
The digital plates are equipped with a variety of technological features. According to a staff analysis, they can include GPS technology and security screws that prevent license plate theft.
“If the plate is removed from the bracket, the plate is programmed to display a blank screen,” the staff analysis says.
The plates are also equipped with technology that would display real-time Amber and Silver alert messages.
Gruter’s proposal comes nearly a decade after the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles authorized a digital license plate pilot program.
According to the staff analysis, high costs and a low availably of proven technology delayed the program’s start.
Now, however, the no-cost pilot program would “investigate the feasibility and use of alternative license plate technologies and the longterm cost impact to the consumer,” the staff analysis adds.
Notably, Democrats and some Republicans voiced privacy concerns over the plates.
Citing a staff analysis, Republican Sen. Ed Hooper noted that Reviver is the only manufacturer of digital license plates.
“This sounds like a sweetheart deal to somebody,” Hooper said.
Gruters, however, disputed that point, clarifying that Reviver is the sole manufacturer that offers a pilot program.
Moreover, the bill doesn’t designate Reviver as the sole provider and more vendors would likely rush into Florida, Gruters added.
If signed into law, the digital plates — at least through Reviver — won’t come cheap.
According to the staff analysis, Reviver offers two agreements: a basic plan and Pro plan.
The basic Reviver plate is $499 plus $55 per year, or $17.95 per month with a 36-month agreement.
The Reviver Pro is $599 plus $75 per year, or $24.95 per month with a 36-month agreement.
Notably, the Pro plates can be used as “mini-billboards” for businesses to promote goods or services, the staff analysis says.
“The (digital plate) will be able to do so only when the vehicle comes to a stop for four seconds or longer,” the staff analysis explains.
Gruters’ proposal moves next to the Senate Appropriations Committee for its final stop before reaching the Senate floor.
If signed into law, the bill would take effect immediately.
“There’s a lot of benefits to it and it’s time that we move with the times and understand the technology is here and we should embrace it and use it to our best advantage,” Gruters said.