while the vehicle is in motion, it would create a safety hazard by distracting fellow motorists following it.

In addition to the plates' ability to display ads from companies that have entered into contracts with the DMV, they would also deliver emergency alerts such as Amber Alerts and traffic safety updates, according to Price's office.

"State governments are facing unprecedented budget shortfalls, and are actively rethinking the use of existing state assets to create new ongoing revenue opportunities," Sen. Price said in a press release. "This legislation provides a unique opportunity for California to work in partnership with some of the state's most innovative enterprises to rethink how we can use our most basic assets to achieve greater efficiencies and cost savings, while generating new revenues for the state."

The DMV hasn't publically taken a position on the matter and doesn't take stands on pending legislation, a spokesperson said. And the California Highway Patrol, which would be consulted during such a study -- due to traffic safety concerns -- echoed the same sentiment through a spokesperson.

SB 1453 will next be footed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which will likely hear it in early August, due to a monthlong break, said Assembly Transportation Committee Consultant Howard Posner. If it gets the green light, the bill will go to the Assembly floor for a vote, and if it passes, will go back to the Senate floor for one more vote (due to an amendment that clarifies language requirements for the DMV).

If it chooses to explore the use of digital plates, the DMV would be required to submit a report on its findings to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2013. The private sector would foot the approximately $200,000 to complete the report, the bill says.


Karen Wilkinson  | 

Karen is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.