You Paid For It: Auto License Plate Readers

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) have been around for several years, but they're becoming a more popular piece of technology for police departments.

We noticed an April 6 expenditure in the City of North Charleston check register for $41,515.24 to NDI Technologies, which is one company that makes ALPRs.

The North Charleston Police Department said it purchased additional license plate readers with gr ant money from the Department of Justice.

City money wasn't spent on them but federal dollars were. The plate readers are attached to utility poles.

ALPRs take a picture of the front and back of cars as they come and go.

Images are stored in a state database.

It alerts dispatchers if the license plate is connected to a suspended tag, uninsured car or stolen vehicle. It can be a much cheaper way to detect such crimes without having an officer sitting on the side of the road monitoring.

Not everyone is a fan.

Plate readers have created some controversy about whether they violate drivers' privacy rights. Hundreds of images of your car may be stored in the database right now.

The goal of the Live 5 'You Paid For It' segment is to show and explain government spending and increase transparency for taxpayers. If you have an idea, email

Copyright 2018 WCSC. All rights reserved.