California license plates may go electronic, feature advertising

12:08 AM, Jun 16, 2010   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - A bill by a southern California lawmaker may be the first step toward a new wave of advertising: electronic license plates on cars.

Senator Curren Price, D- Los Angeles, introduced Senate Bill 1453, which has already passed the Senate.  If passed by the Assembly, the new law would commission a study of electronic license plates as a viable means for advertising and other communication.

"We're giving the Department of Motor Vehicles the leeway to investigate the technology, conduct some tests, and come back with a recommendation to the legislature," said Price.

Under the bill, the California DMV would examine the emergence of digital electronic license plate technology, possibly working with Smart Plate, a start-up company with three employees based in San Francisco.

The electronic plate on the back side of a car might show messages or advertisements, but only after sitting motionless for several seconds. 

Companies would pay to advertise on license plates, potentially generating another source of state revenue.

"The license number is always visible in the corner," said Price.  "Even when it's advertising about an event coming up, or a non-profit organization, or a public service activity, the numbers are still visible (on the license plate)."

"Whoever the company is that's engaged in the research would pay for it," said Price.

The bill goes up for review by the State Assembly Transportation Committee Monday.

By Will Frampton,


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