Politicians have been grappling with introducing tolls on interstates that cross though Connecticut for some time. Each time new forms of revenue for the state coffers is explored it ends up costing taxpayers more money. Technology, however, has the ability to discriminate using the simple license plate mounted on the moving vehicle.
License plate reading — LPR — technology has been around for a while. It works by using cameras to take a picture of the vehicle. It then identifies the license plate within the image. When this technology is used in a police car, it records the GPS position and time and date. Some of these systems also record the direction of travel. The images are not just of the license plate but include whatever is near the vehicle.
The data is stored in a remote computer database. Police departments throughout the country are using this technology to identify where people go. In Southern California currently the police departments are recording the movements of the entire population. In under a second, the police can identify whether a vehicle is stolen or is wanted.
When this unit is installed in a police car, it gives the officer any detail on record about the vehicle. The police car has direct access to the Department of Motor Vehicles. This activity is upsetting to many and the ACLU has brought lawsuits in several states over the length of time that police can review the records.
Since the holder of information is not a police agency, it can sell the information gathered by police departments. Other uses of license plate scanning within the state of Connecticut are currently being deployed. Parking enforcement in the city of West Hartford, uses this same technology.
New York State uses this technology for a toll on the Henry Hudson Bridge. The sign is posted on the highway — no stopping. It is combined with EZ Pass, so that vehicles can be automatically billed from that system or have a bill automatically generated and mailed to where the vehicle is registered.
In 2011 Rhode Island was involved in litigation over giving a discount to state residents for access to the Newport Bridge. It simply set up a separate company that was state- owned to collect the tax. The ruling satisfied the exception in the commerce clause.
The cost of setting cameras at our state borders along with EZ Pass would be relatively cheap and an effective way to collect tolls from only out-of-state residents. The implementation could be put in place and collect tolls until such time as a legal challenge. Litigation follows almost all actions of the state.