ALPR Technology Leads to Arrest After Bicyclist Killed in Fairfield

Home » ALPR Technology Leads to Arrest After Bicyclist Killed in Fairfield
October 23, 2021
Edward Smith

Cyclist Struck and Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver

On Tuesday night, October 19, 2021, a bicyclist was killed in a hit-and-run collision that was suspected to involve a driver under the influence of alcohol. Data collected from an automated license plate reader (ALPR) system led to the arrest of a Fairfield man, according to police. 

Details of the Fatal Incident

On Tuesday evening, at approximately 7:00 p.m., a 53-year-old man was riding a bicycle when he was struck by a Nissan SUV. The incident happened on North Texas Street in the vicinity of Wisconsin Street. The cyclist, who has not yet been identified, suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene. The driver of the Nissan SUV did not stop to render aid to the injured cyclist but instead chose to flee the scene.

Video of the Incident Located

In the course of their investigation, Fairfield police officers located video footage of the crash and were able to use a license plate reader program to identify the vehicle and its owner. Officers later discovered surveillance footage of the driver, as well.

Hit-and-Run Suspect Arrested 

Based on the information gathered during the investigation, officers were able to serve a search warrant on Tuesday night, which led to the arrest of the suspect driver, a 31-year-old Fairfield resident. The suspect faces charges of murder and driving under the influence (DUI). He was also charged with a violation of probation stemming from a previous DUI conviction, according to authorities with the Fairfield Police Department.

A Senseless Tragedy

Police officers indicate that both speed and alcohol are suspected to be causative factors in the fatal crash. They issued a reminder to the public that driving while impaired puts lives at stake. 

What are Automated License Plate Readers?

Automated license plate reader (ALPR) systems are high-tech programs that combine cameras and advanced software to capture and convert images from license plates into data that can then be run through other databases for comparison purposes. 

The cameras that are used in ALPRs can be either stationary or mobile. They are compact enough to be mounted on road signs, traffic lights, police cars, and in a myriad of other locations.

These systems collect motorists’ geographic locations and the date/time that their vehicles were in specific locations. The systems do this by capturing images of license plates that can be read by computers. They are used by law enforcement to track people suspected of being involved in criminal activities. ALPR technology is also used in the private sector. Companies that repossess vehicles, monitor parking lots, and control access to private property are some examples of private users, however, the systems can be purchased by anyone. As the use of these devices has increased, so have concerns about privacy and the appropriate use of data.

Concerns About ALPR

ALPR technology can certainly be used for good, such as it was in the Fairfield hit-and-run. Their use is not limited to apprehending criminals and bringing them to justice, however. There is a large amount of data that is being collected by ALPRs and not enough guidance on their use, according to privacy advocates. ALPRs do not just capture and retain information of criminals, they do so for all vehicles, including those of innocent citizens, and that data is retained for long periods of time. There are also concerns about inaccuracies within the ALPR databases that could lead to false matches and implicate innocent individuals.

Another concern about ALPR technology is that the detailed location information collected and stored could potentially be used to build a profile of a person. What if government dossiers were being built that detail individuals’ trips to medical facilities, churches, bars, and political protests? Questions such as these concern civil libertarians.

Watch the YouTube video. The clip below, uploaded by the Washington Post, discusses ALPRs.

Fairfield Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Fairfield personal injury lawyer. If you have suffered injuries in a car crash caused by another driver’s negligence, call our injury attorneys for free and friendly legal advice. We also help families who have suffered the loss of a loved one in a wrongful death incident. Our phone number is (707) 564-1900. From outside the local area code, please use our toll-free line: (800) 404-5400.

Photo: by Paolo Nicolello via Unsplash

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