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Bill to place time limits on storage of license plate numbers

By Randall Jeppesen | Posted - Jan 2nd, 2013 @ 1:28pm

SALT LAKE CITY -- License-plate scanners are gaining popularity among police departments as they look for stolen cars, but a bill to be introduced on Utah's Capitol Hill is designed to limit how long police can store scanned information and who can access the data.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Todd Weiler, rode along with police as officers used a scanner to search for stolen cars or car owners who aren't paying their fees and insurance. He said he doesn't like the idea of a database being kept for years showing when and where each car was scanned.

Weiler says he'll propose the data be deleted after six months.

There's currently an administrative law in place that says police will keep the information for two years, but it can be easily changed. Some in law enforcement say keeping long-term records of scanned vehicles could help solve crimes.

Officials with the ACLU of Utah argue police should really only need the information for 12 hours to check up on possible problems, but say they'd be OK with the information stored for 30 days at a maximum.

Weiler expects a lively debate on his bill, which he says would limit access to the scanned data to police departments investigating crimes so it could not be subpoenaed in civil cases.

Randall Jeppesen

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