Electronic California Plates Would Flash Ads

In the ongoing effort to cram ad space onto every last inch of the planet, the California Legislature has introduced a bill that would call for research into using electronic license plates.

The high-tech plates being developed by Smart Plate aren’t ready for production yet, but in theory, the state would sell advertising space on the plates. When the vehicle is moving, the license plate number would be displayed just like a normal one, but when the car is stopped for longer than 4 seconds, the plate would begin flashing an ad. The number would remain visible in a small portion of the plate.

The bill, introduced by Democratic state Sen. Curren Price of Los Angeles, would primarily be a revenue generator. California is trying to close a cavernous $19 billion budget gap, though it’s unclear if the plates could be ready for distribution this year — not that the Golden State won’t likely be in dire financial straits next year as well.

It will be interesting to see if law enforcement has any objections. After all, a metal plate cannot short out and go blank, and if it can be illegal to obscure part of your license plate, why would it be OK for the plate number to shrink to make way for a pop-up promising “Shockingly low prices at online penny auctions”?

Calif. Lawmakers Consider Electronic License Plates That Can Show Ads as State Deficit Looms (Los Angeles Times)

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