License plate readers could target uninsured drivers
PLAQUEMINE - Uninsured drivers in Louisiana could be the target of license plate readers in a pilot program across nine parishes.
Right now the details of Senate Bill 250 are being ironed out by legislators. If the bill is passed into law, Ascension and Iberville Parishes would be two of the nine parishes to operate cameras on police units, portable trailers and stationary objects. When an uninsured vehicle passes by a camera the vehicle is flagged in the system.
The Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office would operate a center that would notify police officers of stolen vehicles in the area and mail citations to drivers of uninsured cars.
"The officer will get immediate notification. We'll be able to stop and retrieve someone's vehicle right on the spot if it's in fact stolen," said Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi.
However, some privacy advocates feel the benefits of the program do not outweigh the dangers. American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman says "Big Brother" does not need to keep an eye over drivers.
"If you can stop them in real time, then you don't need the video images, because you've already got them. So I can't see any legitimate reason for the government to retain these images for any longer than a day, an hour," she said. "If they want to know where you were, if you drive on that road they can find out what time of what day you drove down a particular location, and that is none of their business unless they have a reason to suspect you of criminal activity."
Stassi says deputies could also use the technology for Amber Alerts and murder investigations.
"There's always going to be that fine line, but if we can use this type of technology to save someone's life or arrest someone who's committed a crime, I think those 30 days will be well worth it," he said.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, also includes Allen, Avoyelles, Bossier, Calcasieu, Plaquemines, Terrebonne and Webster parishes.