Nearly 100 million vehicles cross the Delaware River Port Authority's four bridges linking New Jersey with Philadelphia every year.

Soon, police will know the license plate number of every single one of them.

The Delaware River Port Authority will allow the New Jersey State Police to install automatic license plate scanners on both sides of the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Betsy Ross and Commodore Barry Bridges.

Exactly when the scanners will be installed and where was not revealed by the DRPA, but reports indicate they could be operational by the summer.

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License plate readers are being installed on the Delaware River crossings. They will be monitored by the state police.

What are they looking for?

The cameras are designed to operate at high speeds to capture and automatically store computer-readable images of license plates. The data is then stored in a centralized data base.

The DRPA insist these scanners are not going to be looking for drivers who exceed the speed limit or fail to pay the toll.

Increasingly, this technology has been used to search for suspects wanted in more serious crimes.

Scanners have also been effective in helping to catch individuals involved in car theft.

Who has access to the license plate data?

Primarily, the data will be stored and reviewed by the New Jersey State Police.

However, local law enforcement agencies can readily access the data for their own investigations.

The data can also be shared with the Department of Homeland Security.

It is not clear if the information could be accessed by immigration authorities.

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License plate readers are being installed on the Delaware River crossings. They will be monitored by the state police.

In New Jersey, these scanners are everywhere

The state Attorney General's Office awarded $10 million in 2023 to state and local police to install license plate readers on patrol cars.

When the grants were announced, the AG's office claimed the readers have helped reduce the number of car thefts.

In a statement, the AG contends, "This information assists law enforcement in identifying, locating, and recovering stolen vehicles; interrupting auto theft networks; and apprehending individuals involved in vehicle theft and other violent crimes."

There are privacy concerns

Both in New Jersey and nationwide, the American Civil Liberties Union has raised privacy concerns.

First, the ACLU is trying to figure out how many scanners are in use. Then they want to know how the data is being used.

When New Jersey began expanding the use of license plate scanners, the ACLU said it was critical for the public to know whether adequate safeguards were in place.

A New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in 1998 granted police the right to manually run a license plate check. Such a check can be time and labor intensive.

Automatic license plate scanners can ruck checks on hundreds of plates per minute.

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