State investigating issues with new Tennessee license plates


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – If you’ve renewed your tags recently, you could be one of thousands of people who purchased Tennessee’s new dark blue license plate.

However, you may need to replace it soon. The Tennessee Department of Revenue is receiving reports that license plate cameras are having trouble reading these new plates.

Nearly 50,000 of the new plates are on vehicles in Shelby County. The state expects to replace millions of plates across the state by the end of the year.

Lakeland Commissioner Wesley Wright is asking the state to stop Tennessees from buying these new plates.

“I think something needs to be sorted out quickly,” Commissioner Wright said.

He says he learned that some license plate cameras might not be able to read them at night. He says he discovered the readability issue during a meeting on Thursday.

“It’s not just a problem for Lakeland, it’s everywhere because Shelby County alone has about 600 Flock cameras,” Commissioner Wright said. “I asked other sources and found out that it’s not just Flock, it’s software-based cameras.”

According to the Shelby County Clerk’s Office, nearly 50,000 plates have been issued as of Feb. 11. Wright also claims the plates do not meet Department of Transportation reflectivity standards.

“That’s the biggest problem because they’re handing out these things at a cost and so much has been handed out and there will be a lot more throughout the year,” Commissioner Wright said. “It’s something that I think the state should highlight and be transparent about.”

The Tennessee Department of Revenue issues license plates. Communications Director Kelly Cortesi sent a statement to Action News 5:

“We are aware of this issue and are engaging in conversations with our partners at the Tennessee Department of Security to better understand it. It would be premature to discuss any further action we might take until we have fully addressed the concerns raised. »

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office uses surveillance cameras as an investigative tool. Officials there say they alerted Flock Safety, the company SCSO rents cameras, that the cameras scan plates but sometimes confuse them with designs from other states.

Flock Safety public relations manager Holly Beilin sent a statement to Action News 5:

“Our Tennessee customers have informed Flock Safety that while the characters on the new plates read correctly, state identification may need to continue to improve. We operate in over 40 states and know how to adjust quickly our software and machine learning to capture this new plate design with the same high level of accuracy as previous designs.

The Department of Revenue says 400,000 plates have been issued across Tennessee. They plan to replace 5.5 million plates by the end of 2022.

Action News 5 also asked the Revenue Department how much it would cost to replace the plates and whether taxpayers would have to pay for them. They told us it would be premature to discuss further actions until they investigate the issues.

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