Montana Lawmaker Introduces License Plate Reader Ban That Could Have Nationwide Effect

Following a recent string of reports suggesting law enforcement officers have used license plate scanners to track and monitor drivers without cause or warrant, state lawmakers in Montana have decided they’re having none of it.

State Rep. Daniel Zolnikov, a Republican, introduced legislation Jan. 28 “prohibiting the use of a license plate scanner by the state or a local government.” His bill was approved Feb. 13 by the Montana House Judiciary Committee in an 11-10 vote, though still has a long way through the state legislature before it becomes law.

“The purpose of this legislation is to severely limit Montana’s consideration of purchasing and implementing these devices. We have a very short period of time before the state likely starts implementing license plate scanners and starts sharing it with the Department of Justice,” Zolnikov said.

The bill does make certain exceptions, however: Scanners could still be used in parking regulation enforcement, and the Montana Department of Transportation would be allowed to use the scanners at designated virtual ports of entry, weigh station ramps that use screening systems and virtual weigh stations that use motion technology.

But the information collected under these exceptions would remain anonymous, restricting the state from identifying the vehicle, the vehicle owner, the driver of the vehicle or any passengers in the vehicle. (Read more about the law the Montana Lawmaker introduced HERE)

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