Study: Va. loses toll money from unreadable license plates

Dick Uliano,

WASHINGTON – Some drivers are enjoying a free ride through automatic tolls in Virginia, but budget-conscious lawmakers in Richmond may be eager to close the gap.

A 76-page study on license plates, prepared by the Department of Motor Vehicles, was provided to legislators Monday.

The study found that toll cameras can fail to read a variety of license plates. Problem plates for the cameras include some personalized license plates, older, worn plates, plates that are framed or covered in plastic and plates splashed with mud or obscured by trailer hitches.

The study estimates the Commonwealth loses between $65,446.73 and $70,474.73 each year from unreadable plates.

Lawmakers are being offered a number of ideas and recommendations to improve automatic toll collection.

The Department of Motor Vehicles suggests that all new plate designs be tested by toll cameras before being approved.

Lawmakers are learning that license plate manufacturers are developing bar codes for plates that could improve their readability by toll cameras. Another possibility is the use of radio frequency identification — transponders that could be embedded into license plates.

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