North Carolina: Privacy concerns derail license plate reader legislation (HB87)

After a tense discussion about privacy rights and a confusing vote, state lawmakers voted down a bill that would have allowed law enforcement to put license plate readers on state roads.

House Bill 87 has seen several different iterations, including in 2017 when it passed 106-15 in the North Carolina House, but did not receive a single committee hearing when it went over to the Senate. Wrightsville Beach Chief of Police Dan House told lawmakers on Tuesday there is a need for the readers but said there is “literally no area to put a camera in the right-of-way where it would be helpful to us” because all of the roads in his town are state right-of-way.

Fred Baggett, legislative counsel for the N.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, said HB 87 wouldn’t be authorizing the use of the readers “in a new way” since they’ve been used in the state for years. “A lot of places don’t have them, frankly, because they can’t be put in state right-of-way where they do the most good,” Baggett said.