Major Ontario license plate scanning program begins for drivers

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The Ontario Provincial Police will easily be able to catch drivers for even minor injuries with the major expansion of license plate scanning technology in the province.

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt told CTV News Toronto the Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) system expansion began on Monday in the Greater Toronto Area, and will continue to rollout further across Ontario in the coming weeks.

“We have been using it for several years in a limited capacity,” Schmidt said in an interview. “Now, it’s being rolled out to every car across the province.”

Schmidt said the ALPR technology instantly notifies police of things like expired registrations, arrest warrants, or if a vehicle is stolen. It also has the capability of capturing vehicles of interest during amber alerts.

Up to three cameras are mounted on top of police cruisers. One or two cameras point forward, and one point backwards, so that an officer can scan cars in multiple directions.

Schmidt said the technology will be a “game changer” for the police, who can now scan hundreds of license plates within minutes while monitoring the roadways.

For example, within 22 minutes of patrolling Highway 403 in Mississauga on Monday, Schmidt said the system was able to flag 32 vehicles for infractions.

He said the system identified one suspended driver, four unlicenced drivers, and 27 expired vehicle registrations.

The number vehicles being flagged were coming in so fast it was impossible to keep up by pulling them over, Schmidt said.

The Ontario government announced in February 2022 they would invest in the ALPR technology as part of “its commitment to provide police with the tools they need to do their jobs.”

“We are seeing a massive increase in unregistered vehicles,” Schmidt said. He said Ontario drivers are neglecting to renew their registrations since license plate stickers are no longer needed, and is warning people to keep their registration up to date to avoid fines.

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