New law in California legalizes digital license plates on cars

California drivers can now legally install a brand new piece of technology on their vehicle – digital license plates.

The bill, AB 984, was authored by Assemblywoman Lori Wilson and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 5.

The first pilot program of its kind was established in the state back in 2018 and included 175,000 participants. Now millions of licensed drivers can install the tech-savvy hardware.

The digital disc is made by Reviver and uses an electronic ink-style display, similar to those found on an e-reader.

In particular, the digital plate opens up a number of customization options, including color choices and edge displays (similar to a license plate frame.) The hardware connects to an app and allows owners to use vehicle location services, safety features, stolen vehicle reports, registration renewals without the need for stickers or a visit to a DMV location , and more.

The signs can display various emergency messages, for example if a vehicle has been stolen or an AMBER Alert. A built-in location tracker will allow police to easily locate a stolen car, according to Reviver.

There are currently two options to choose from – a battery powered version or a wired version.

The battery-powered option is available for all vehicles and is a “self-install model with a replaceable 5-year battery available for $19.95/month.”

The hardwired version is “offered to commercial businesses only and features a hardwired, professionally installed model with integrated telematics features and a backlit display, priced at $24.95/month.”

Currently, only two other states allow digital license plates — Arizona and Michigan — while Texas allows digitized license plates only for commercial vehicles. Ten other states are currently in various stages of adopting digital plates in the future.

“California is home to the rapidly growing digital license plate technology,” the company says. “California has always been a place of innovation and opportunity, and AB 984 shows how we can use technology to improve compliance, offer convenience and develop industry standards.”

The digital discs are now available to California residents.

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