Digital License Plates Approved

By Jose Cervantes

California has adopted the use of digital license plates for all state-registered vehicles with the passing of Assembly Bill 984 also known as the Motor Vehicle Digital Plate Number Plates bill in October of 2023.

Reviver is a California-based company that currently is the only approved entity offering digital license plates to drivers in the state. The RPlate has also been approved for sale in Arizona and Michigan with several other states considering the adoption of digital license plates.

Digital license plates have been in a beta program since 2018 that limited the number of California residents who can register for one to around 175,000 vehicles. With the passing of AB-984, that was increased to allow all 40 million vehicles registered in the state.

Drivers can replace their rear metal plates with a digital e-ink display that offers additional hardware and software utility that traditional plates do not carry.

The RPlate eliminates the need for registration stickers as the plates can renew themselves through the app.

Drivers can personalize their plate with a selection of over a hundred DMV-approved messages that sits below the plate characters with options to choose from several fonts. For custom messages, they need to be approved by the DMV.

Though not a colored display, the driver can switch between a light and dark mode at any time such as to adjust for ambient lighting conditions or to match the aesthetics of their vehicle.

RPlates can display emergency messages such as displaying that the car it is attached to has been marked as “STOLEN” by the driver or if there is a local AMBER Alert issued.

The digital plates can carry GPS technology that allows users to locate their vehicle, although this option is mostly opted for commercial vehicles that allow employers to track a vehicle’s location and mileage.

Existing GPS technology can be equipped for any commercial vehicle to achieve the same result, and it is not exclusive to the plates themselves.

Reviver has addressed data privacy concerns regarding the collection and retention of data collected by RPlates. The plates do not store any sensitive data themselves and all data is stored on their servers as stated on their website.

Data is also not actively shared with law enforcement or the DMV. Data processing by employers for commercial fleets is separate.

California DMV Deputy Director Bernard Soriano said in a press release that the adoption of digital license plates will make the process of renewals easier for drivers without ever having to visit a DMV office.

Reviver does not currently offer digital plates for the front side of a vehicle due to the differences in bracketing the plate on either side. It is required by law that vehicles carry a front and rear license plate where applicable.

It is illegal to hack or modify the RPlate under state law, and individuals are not allowed to DIY a digital plate to reach the same purpose. The company also does not currently offer license plates for motorcycles.

The RPlate comes in a battery-powered and hard-wired variant as a monthly subscription.

The battery-powered plate starts at $19.95 per month for 48 months, or $215.40 a year for four years. The hard-wired plate starts at $24.95 per month for 48 months, or $275.40 a year for four years.

Reviver offers additional tier-based subscription service plans that enable certain features including the option for custom messages and fonts. These start at $35 annually for both the battery-powered and wired plates and climb above $120 annually for the Premium package which is currently only available in California.

The hard-wired plate is aimed more toward commercial operations and gives drivers GPS connectivity for tracking and display backlighting to make the plate more visible in low-light conditions.

There is an optional professional installation for the plates priced at $150.

Reviver says there are over 10,000 California vehicles sporting RPlates.


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