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Crackdown on Oregon License Plates Raises Privacy Concerns

Thursday, September 04, 2014

 

State Patrol

Washington police are tracking and ticketing drivers with Oregon license plates.

Washington state police are cracking down on residents with Oregon license plates in a move that's been slammed by privacy experts.

Washington state police are using  Automated License Plate Readers in a bid to crack down on Washington residents who register their vehicles in Oregon to save money. Washington police says the practice - which avoids Washington's sales tax and higher registration fees - is costing the state millions. Others are concerned about the level of police surveillance that's required to catch someone.

Eyes on You

Olga Petriyenko was living in Vancouver last year and borrowing a friend’s car with Oregon plates when she was pulled over on State Road 14.

“He just pulled me over for no reason and plus yelled at me, being mean to me,” she said. Petriyenko, said the officer would not tell her why she was being pulled over but gave her a $1,100 ticket for improper registration. Her case was eventually dismissed. 

“That’s her car and I was just borrowing, but I was living in Vancouver,” she said. 

Bill Montecucco is a traffic attorney in Vancouver and said he's seen a steady increase in license plate cases.

Montecucco said over the past few years he has seen more and more of these out-of-state plate cases come through his Vancouver office. Police capture license plates with the digital scanners and then compare them to a database of out-of-state license plates that have been seen repeatedly on Washington roads. 

Petriyenko was pulled over after police saw her license plate and were notified through their electronic system that it had been observed in Vancouver five times, Montecucco said. 

Petriyenko said she was not violating any laws and that the officer had no reason to pull her over. 

“In my opinion it’s an unlawful reason to stop them, by claiming they have an Oregon plate and are seen in Washington a number of times,” Montecucco said.

Millions involved

Police argue it costs the Washington state needed revenue when drivers get their license plates in Oregon to save on sales tax and registration fees in Oregon. 

“It’s in the millions,” said Trooper William Finn, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol’s District 5. . 

Photo Credit: mag3737 via Compfight cc

Since 2011, when the state started cracking down on out-of-state plates, police have made 3,569 stops, issued 677 tickets and written 462 written warnings. The majority of those, 512, were in Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Skamania and Klickitat counties. And of those, half were written in Clark County. 

“It would be safe to say the majority of them would be Oregon plates,” Finn said. He added some Washington residents will buy their cars and register them in Oregon to avoid the Washington state sales tax on the car purchase. If drivers have purchased a car within three months of moving to Washington they have to pay the Washington state tax on it. 

The fine for having an out-of-state plate is $1,022. The state has collected roughly $691,894 over a three year period. 

Finn believes Washington residents are registering their cars in Oregon because the plates are cheaper, but in the end it costs them more.

“[Washington plates are] a lot cheaper than the $1,022 fine,” he said.

Drivers with Oregon or other out-of-state plates living in Vancouver or Camas have been getting away with it for years.

The Washington State Highway Patrol’s License Investigation Unit, that enforces the license plate laws, lacked funding for years. Then in 2010, lawmakers passed a law that restored the agency's budget. So far the only investigative unit in the entire state is located in Vancouver.  Finn said officers hope for another unit near the Idaho border soon. 

Privacy Concerns

For some, the fact that police are keeping track of drivers is unsettling. 

License plate scanners are in use throughout the metro area.  In June, Hillsboro police arrested a fugitive after they came upon him while they were randomly scanning license plates in a Fred Meyer parking lot.

The American Civil Liberties Union argues the license plate trackers pose a serious privacy issue. 

“Automatic license plate readers have the potential to create permanent records of virtually everywhere any of us has driven, radically transforming the consequences of leaving home to pursue private life, and opening up many opportunities for abuse,” the ACLU stated in a 2013 report. “The tracking of people’s location constitutes a significant invasion of privacy, which can reveal many things about their lives, such as what friends, doctors, protests, political events, or churches a person may visit.”

Finn said the license plate readers are just a way for officers to catch drivers they suspect are trying to get away with not paying for Washington plates. 

“It’s a tool that we can use to capture images of license plates, to know that we have observed a license plate on a vehicle multiple times in a certain area,” he said. 

Homepage Photo Credit: sixes & sevens via Compfight cc

 

Related Slideshow: 60 Most Dangerous Intersections in Oregon

In 2013, Oregon’s 60 most dangerous intersections generated nearly 3,400 accidents, resulting in 56 deaths and more than 1,800 injuries.  GoLocalPDX brings you a list of these intersections, showing you where to drive with the most caution.

Prev Next

#60 Most Dangerous

OR-99 & turning leg to Garfield St. 

Medford, Jackson County

Total Crashes: 13

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 8
Property Damage: 4

Prev Next

#59 Most Dangerous

OR-43 & SW Iowa St.

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 12 

Fatalities:
Injuries: 9
Property Damage: 2

Prev Next

#58 Most Dangerous

OR-219 & Everest Rd.

Newberg, Yamhill County

Total Crashes: 19

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 4
Property Damage: 14

Prev Next

#57 Most Dangerous

I-405/Exit 2B

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 14

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 9
Property Damage: 4

Prev Next

#56 Most Dangerous

OR-8 & SW 187th Ave.

Aloha, Washington County

Total Crashes: 14

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 9
Property Damage: 4

Prev Next

#55 Most Dangerous

US-20 & NE Seward Ave.

Bend, Deschutes County

Total Crashes: 16

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 8
Property Damage: 7

Prev Next

#54 Most Dangerous

OR-126B & N 54th St.

Springfield, Lane County

Total Crashes: 16

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 8
Property Damage: 7

Prev Next

#53 Most Dangerous

OR-99 & NW East St.

Grants Pass, Josephine County

Total Crashes: 17

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 8
Property Damage: 8

Prev Next

#52 Most Dangerous

OR-99 & E Park St.

Grants Pass, Josephine County

Total Crashes: 20

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 9
Property Damage: 10

Prev Next

#51 Most Dangerous

OR-99 & Richard Ave.

Eugene, Lane County

Total Crashes: 19

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 10
Property Damage: 8

Prev Next

#50 Most Dangerous

OR-8 & SE 11th Ave.

Hillsboro, Washington County

Total Crashes: 18

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 11
Property Damage: 6

Prev Next

#49 Most Dangerous

OR-213 & SE Center St.

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 102

Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 53
Property Damage: 49

Prev Next

#48 Most Dangerous

US-199 & Allen Creek

Grants Pass, Josephine County

Total Crashes: 19

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 11
Property Damage: 7

Prev Next

#47 Most Dangerous

US-20 & 27th St.

Bend, Deschutes County

Total Crashes: 22

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 9
Property Damage: 12

Prev Next

#46 Most Dangerous

OR-99EB/Mile Point 4.64-4.8

Salem, Marion County

Total Crashes: 20 

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 11
Property Damage: 8

Prev Next

#45 Most Dangerous

OR-8 & SW 110th Ave.

Beaverton, Washington County

Total Crashes: 107

Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 50
Property Damage: 57

Prev Next

#44 Most Dangerous

OR-213 & Mollala Ave.

Oregon City, Clackamas County

Total Crashes: 23

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 9
Property Damage: 13

Prev Next

#43 Most Dangerous

OR-99W & N Deborah Rd.

Newberg, Yamhill County

Total Crashes: 22

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 10
Property Damage: 11

Prev Next

#42 Most Dangerous

US-30BY & NE 72nd Ave.

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 18 

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 14
Property Damage: 3

Prev Next

#41 Most Dangerous

OR-99 & NE D St.

Grants Pass, Josephine County

Total Crashes: 22

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 12
Property Damage: 9

Prev Next

#40 Most Dangerous

OR-62 & North Pacific Hallow/Mile Point 0.05-0.14

Medford, Jackson County

Total Crashes: 22

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 13
Property Damage: 8

Prev Next

#39 Most Dangerous

I-84 & NE 33rd Ave. Exit

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 25

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 11
Property Damage: 13

Prev Next

#38 Most Dangerous

OR-8 & Yew St.

Forest Grove, Washington County

Total Crashes: 21

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 15
Property Damage: 5

Prev Next

#37 Most Dangerous

OR-99E & Hull Ave.

Lake Oswego, Clackamas County

Total Crashes: 20

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 16
Property Damage: 3

Prev Next

#36 Most Dangerous

OR-42 & SW Carnes Rd.

Roseburg, Douglas County

Total Crashes: 25

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 12
Property Damage: 12

Prev Next

#35 Most Dangerous

US-26 & SE 362nd Ave.

Sandy, Clackamas County

Total Crashes: 25

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 13
Property Damage: 11

Prev Next

#34 Most Dangerous

US-26 & LEG (To Ruben Ln.)/Mile Point 23.35-23.52

Sandy, Clackamas County

Total Crashes: 22

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 16
Property Damage: 5

Prev Next

#33 Most Dangerous

I-84 & Irving St. Exit/Mile Point 1.15-1.44

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 104

Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 60
Property Damage: 44

Prev Next

#32 Most Dangerous

OR-213 & SE Boyer Dr.

Milwaukie, Clackamas County

Total Crashes: 23

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 16
Property Damage: 6

Prev Next

#31 Most Dangerous

US-26 & SE 70th Ave.

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 27

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 13
Property Damage: 13

Prev Next

#30 Most Dangerous

OR-62 & Merry Lane

Medford, Jackson County

Total Crashes: 25

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 17
Property Damage: 7

Prev Next

#29 Most Dangerous

I-5 Near Exit 302A/Mile Point 302.76-302.95

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 34

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 19
Property Damage: 14

Prev Next

#28 Most Dangerous

US-20 & SE Fulton St.

Albany, Linn County

Total Crashes: 37

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 20
Property Damage: 16

Prev Next

#27 Most Dangerous

OR-62 & Delta Waters Rd.

Medford, Jackson County

Total Crashes: 42

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 17
Property Damage: 24

Prev Next

#26 Most Dangerous

OR-99W & Warner Ave.

Tigard, Washington County

Total Crashes: 117 

Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 70
Property Damage: 47

Prev Next

#25 Most Dangerous

US-26 & SE 170th Ave.

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 118

Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 73
Property Damage: 45

Prev Next

#24 Most Dangerous

OR-22 & LEG (From Airport Rd.)

Salem, Marion County

Total Crashes: 52

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 22
Property Damage: 29

Prev Next

#23 Most Dangerous

I-5 Near Exit 302A/Mile Point 302.52-302.76

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 140 

Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 65
Property Damage: 75

Prev Next

#22 Most Dangerous

US-30BY & N Greenwich Ave.

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 56

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 28
Property Damage: 27

Prev Next

#21 Most Dangerous

US-26/Mile Point 72.74-73.07

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 156

Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 70
Property Damage: 86

Prev Next

#20 Most Dangerous

OR-213 & SE Orchard Lane

Southgate, Clackamas County

Total Crashes: 141 

Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 85
Property Damage: 56

Prev Next

#19 Most Dangerous

OR-213 & SE Insley St.

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 70

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 33
Property Damage: 36

Prev Next

#18 Most Dangerous

I-5/Mile Point 300.19-300.51

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 155

Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 77
Property Damage: 78

Prev Next

#17 Most Dangerous

OR-22 & SE Hawthorne Ave.

Salem, Marion County

Total Crashes: 76

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 35
Property Damage: 40

Prev Next

#16 Most Dangerous

OR-213 & SE Causey Ave.

Happy Valley, Clackamas County

Total Crashes: 80 

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 41
Property Damage: 38

Prev Next

#15 Most Dangerous

OR-99E & Dunes Dr.

Oregon City, Clackamas County

Total Crashes: 82

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 44
Property Damage: 37

Prev Next

#14 Most Dangerous

US-26 & SE 38th Ave.

Portland, Multnomah

Total Crashes: 81 

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 46
Property Damage: 34

Prev Next

#13 Most Dangerous

OR-211 Near OR-213 Merge

Molalla, Clackamas County

Total Crashes: 3

Fatalities: 2
Injuries: 0
Property Damage: 1

Prev Next

#12 Most Dangerous

US-26 Near US-197 Merge

Madras, Jefferson County

Total Crashes: 4

Fatalities: 2
Injuries: 1
Property Damage: 1

Prev Next

#11 Most Dangerous

OR-58/Mile Point 14.41-14.54

Lowell, Lane County

Total Crashes: 6

Fatalities: 2
Injuries: 0
Property Damage: 4

Prev Next

#10 Most Dangerous

OR-18 & SW Caleb Payne Rd.

McMinnville, Yamhill County

Total Crashes: 6

Fatalities: 2
Injuries: 1
Property Damage: 3

Prev Next

#9 Most Dangerous

OR-11 & Ferndale Rd.

Milton-Freewater, Umatilla County

Total Crashes: 5

Fatalities: 2
Injuries: 2
Property Damage: 1

Prev Next

#8 Most Dangerous

OR-223 & Rickreal Rd. Exit

Dallas, Polk County

Total Crashes: 5

Fatalities: 2
Injuries: 3
Property Damage: 0

Prev Next

#7 Most Dangerous

US-97 & Rosland Rd.

La Pine, Deschutes County

Total Crashes: 9

Fatalities: 2
Injuries: 4
Property Damage: 3

Prev Next

#6 Most Dangerous

OR-213 & LEG (From Beavercreek Rd.)/Mile Point 2.89-3.08

Oregon City, Clackamas County

Total Crashes: 92

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 51
Property Damage: 40

Prev Next

#5 Most Dangerous

I-5 & US-30

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 181

Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 89
Property Damage: 92

Prev Next

#4 Most Dangerous

OR-212 & I-205/Mile Point 4.92Z-5.18Z

Johnson City, Clackamas County

Total Crashes: 98

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 57
Property Damage: 40

Prev Next

#3 Most Dangerous

US-26 & SE 28th Ave.

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 111

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 56
Property Damage: 54

Prev Next

#2 Most Dangerous

OR-213 & SE Taggart

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 177 

Fatalities: 1
Injuries: 109
Property Damage: 67

Prev Next

#1 Most Dangerous

US-26 & I-405

Portland, Multnomah County

Total Crashes: 381

Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 213
Property Damage: 168

 
 

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