Californians can now get a digital license plate for their car. Here’s how
Drivers in California will be able to trick out their whips with digital license plates.
Digital license plates, which have been piloted in California since 2018, with just 175,000 participants, are now available to all of the state’s 27 million drivers, thanks to Assembly Bill 984.
On Oct. 5, the state passed the Motor Vehicle Digital Plate Number Plates bill, which allows motorists in California to replace their traditional metal license plates with mounted digital plates.
Assemblymember Lori Wilson, who co-authored the bill, called the digital plates “a product of convenience” in a news release.
It’s boring and uninspired, and desperately needs a makeover.
Only two other states — Arizona and Michigan — in the United States allow drivers to add digital license plates to their personal vehicles. Texas has also introduced digital plates, but only for commercial vehicles.
California DMV Deputy Director Bernard Soriano said the digital plates will make the DMV process smoother, by allowing drivers to renew their registrations without having to step foot inside a DMV — a benefit not just for drivers, but staff, too.
“It’s really going to be much more beneficial for them and make our processing much more efficient,” Soriano said in a news release. “It’s a big change, we’re no longer your father’s DMV and I think it’s something we can all embrace and be part of.”
The digital plates come in two models: battery-powered and wired. Unlike regular metal plates, in which registration is paid for upfront for either one or two years, drivers can choose to pay for their plates monthly or annually. Monthly rates for battery-powered plates start at $19.95 a month, or $215.40 a year for a four-year agreement.
A federal judge rules that DMV criteria for deciding which personalized plates to print violate free speech.
Wired plates go for $24.95 a month for a two-year agreement. Wired plates for commercial vehicles would be $275.40 annually.
Unlike traditional metal plates that are typically issued at the DMV, drivers are limited to just one purchasing option for digital plates: Reviver, the sole company that manufactures and distributes the new street legal plates. On Reviver’s website, at reviver.com/rplate, drivers can also choose the option to self-install their new plates, or pay an additional $150 for professional installation.
Aside from being visually aesthetic — and perhaps even the holy grail to drivers who have been forced to sit in agonizingly long lines at the DMV — supporters laud the plates’ safety mechanisms.
The digital plates will be able to display different emergency messages, such as if a vehicle is stolen, or if there’s a local Amber Alert. The plates will also have built-in tracking abilities to help locate stolen cars. Wilson said drivers with privacy concerns will be able to disable the feature on their personal vehicles.
“Californians are known to be early adopters of emerging innovative technologies,” Neville Boston, Reviver co-founder, said in a news release. “We welcome new opportunities to automate and integrate as many parts of our lives as possible, enabling us to streamline mundane tasks and stay connected. Our cars are no exception.”
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