Available Soon: Request your printed copies of the Idaho Freedom Index mailed to you!
Request Your Copies
Note to Dustin: This is currently only visible to logged in users for testing.
Click Me!
video could not be found

House Bill 688 — License plates (0)

House Bill 688 — License plates (0)

Parrish Miller
March 5, 2024

Bill Description: House Bill 688 would codify the use of automated license plate readers by law enforcement and allow for collected data to be stored indefinitely if it is "retained as evidence in a felony or misdemeanor crime."

Rating: 0

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

In recent years, there has been a growing and disturbing trend of law enforcement using automated license plate readers to surveil all vehicles passing the reader.

The statement of purpose for House Bill 688 explains the situation as follows: "In the relative absence of state laws specifically dealing with the question, many Idaho law enforcement agencies are deploying cameras that record the license plates of every vehicle that passes by on public roads. The data collected can then be kept indefinitely."

Unfortunately, the current presumption seems to be that unless a particular method of state surveillance is explicitly banned, government is free to do it. 

House Bill 688 would create Section 49-1432, Idaho Code, to allow "the state of Idaho and its political subdivisions" to use a "lawfully placed" automated license plate reader "to aid law enforcement in the identification of vehicles pursuant to the investigation or prosecution of a felony or misdemeanor crime or in locating a missing or endangered person."

Any collected data could be retained for 45 days and any data that is related to the injury or fatality of any person or is retained as evidence in a felony or misdemeanor crime" could be kept indefinitely. 

Any data collected by a license plate reader and used "for the purposes of port of entry enforcement" could also be kept indefinitely.

This bill is attempting to put some side rails on the use of automated license plate readers to surveil the public, but in so doing, it enshrines this practice of state surveillance in code rather than forbidding or meaningfully curtailing it.


Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for nonviolent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?

Current Idaho law states that "license plates assigned to a motor vehicle shall be attached, one (1) in the front and the other in the rear. …" Failure to abide by this requirement can result in an equipment infraction.

House Bill 688 would add an exception so that front plates would only be required "if the vehicle is equipped with a front license plate mounting bracket."

It is unclear how the term "equipped with" will be interpreted. Many vehicles do not come with a front license plate mounting bracket installed but do have one in the passenger compartment or trunk that can be attached to the vehicle with screws or bolts. If a vehicle has an uninstalled mounting bracket, does it fall under the definition of "equipped with"? If the owner of a vehicle removes or discards this bracket, would the vehicle now qualify for the exclusion of a front plate?

This exception could result in fewer traffic stops and infraction tickets. But eliminating the requirement for a front license plate altogether would be more straightforward and would also save vehicle owners the cost of two plates. Under this exception, all vehicle owners would still be required to purchase two plates even if the lack of a front mounting bracket excused them from displaying one of them.


Idaho Freedom Foundation
802 W. Bannock Street, Suite 405, Boise, Idaho 83702
p 208.258.2280 | e [email protected]
COPYRIGHT © 2024 Idaho freedom Foundation
magnifiercrossmenucross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram