Production of new Tennessee license plate stopped after problem with traffic cameras

Published 5:56 pm Monday, February 14, 2022

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If you renewed your vehicle tags over the course of the last month, you are one of the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who received the newly designed dark blue license plates.

However, the new license plate may be short lived as the Tennessee Department of Revenue is reporting that license plate cameras are having trouble reading the new tags, which do not meet reflectivity standards.

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“We are aware of this issue, and we are engaging in conversations with our partners at the Tennessee Department of Safety to more fully understand it. It would be premature to discuss any further actions we may take until we fully vet the concerns raised,” said Kelly Cortesi, director of communications for the department of revenue.

State officials said 400,000 plates have already been issued, with 5.5 million new license plates were scheduled to be shipped this year.

Joe Patty, a security consultant with Sky Cop, a mobile surveillance unit company, said that if the problem is not fixed, it could become a problem for law enforcement.

“The end result here is, if the technology can’t be fixed, then every Tennessee tag going into the FBI database, called NCIC, is compromised, and that will compromise local law enforcement as well,” Patty said. “Even right down to the level of a local patrol car, that’s behind a car and it can’t read the tag and there is an AMBER Alert, or maybe there’s a missing child in that car, or a wanted felon in that car. These are missed opportunities if these problems are not fixed.”

“Maybe certain people didn’t know to ask certain questions,” Patty said. “I’m sure a lot of thought went into the design of it and how it looked on the back of the car. However, I don’t know how much thought was put into the law enforcement side and the technology side.”