Should Your Clients Install Automated License Plate Readers?

Community associations increasingly are installing automated license plate readers (ALPRs) as a way to bolster security.

“As people get more used to the technology, I think more associations will go down this path,” says Kevin Hirzel, managing member of Hirzel Law, PLC, a Michigan-based firm that works with community associations, “especially if they’re looking to save some money, see who’s coming and going, and potentially catch some criminals.”

But the devices bring with them a variety of practical and legal issues. Before your clients go down this road, make sure they know what they’re getting into.

“Whether it’s a guard in a guardhouse who manually monitors who’s coming and going, or a radio-frequency identification tag affixed to a vehicle’s windshield, associations have historically sought to secure their property by controlling vehicular access,” says community association attorney Joseph Scharnak, a principal in the Chicago office of Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit.

ALPRs promise a cost-efficient way of doing that. The high-speed cameras are mounted on street lights or poles, entrances, gatehouses, or other areas where vehicles enter and exit a community.

ALPRs aren’t necessarily a no-brainer for every association, though. “One reason not to install them is privacy issues,” Hirzel says. Some states, such as Michigan, don’t recognize a right to privacy when it comes to license plates, but that doesn’t mean owners will be comfortable with the technology.

“There will be some people in the community who are opposed to being monitored in this manner,” Scharnak says. That’s particularly likely in associations that share the collected information with law enforcement (with or without a warrant) or owners. Owners could, for example, use the system to pry on or even stalk each other.

Learn more about the potential pros and cons for your association: Read All About It: Should Your Clients Install Automated License Plate Readers?

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey

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