Illinois House passes bill to scan license plates on highways

Illinois Highways

Nearly 100 cameras have already been installed on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago, with plans for another 200. Proposed legislation would expand the cameras throughout the state, not just in Cook County. | Photo courtesy of Illinois Policy

A new measure passed in the Illinois House would have cameras with license plate scanning abilities installed along highways – useful for fighting crime or for taxing vehicles for the miles they travel.

Unlike typical traffic cameras that photograph plates for an infraction, this new technology records license plate information regardless of wrongdoing.

Gov. J.B Pritzker insisted more surveillance cameras will reduce crime.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said there’s no need for privacy concerns, that the state isn’t spying on people and that no warrants are needed.

He, too, said the cameras are essential to curbing crime such as Chicago-area highway shootings.

“Technology is critical to defeating crime, funding for cameras using automated license plate reader technology to help us identify and catch suspects involved in expressway shootings, and other violence, and we welcome the responsible expansion of that technology across the state,” Dart said.

Nearly 100 cameras have already been installed on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago, with plans for another 200. The proposed legislation would expand the cameras throughout the state, not just in Cook County.

The cameras could be used to enforce a vehicle miles traveled tax, which one lawmaker tried to propose in early 2019 only to quickly pull his bill after an outcry. During an interview with the Daily Herald editorial board, then-gubernatorial candidate Pritzker said he’d be open to taxing vehicles by the mile: “It’s only fair, right, that if you’re on a road and traveling on that road that you should pay your fair share on the road like everybody else is paying.”

With the legislative session wrapped up, the traffic camera bill will have to wait until the fall veto session before getting a vote in the Senate. Lawmakers adjourned early to campaign for the June 28 primaries and don’t return to Springfield until after the Nov. 8 general election.

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