Digital License Plates and Tracking Devices

On September 29, 2022, California Governor Newsom signed into law the Motor Vehicle Digital Number Plates Act (AB 984), which will give the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) authority to move forward with new vehicle registration technologies and to issue alternative devices for license plates, stickers, tabs, and registration codes, effective January 1, 2023. 

AB 984 will also, with limited exceptions, prohibit those alternative devices from being equipped with GPS or other vehicle location tracking capability, which will impact certain California employers who use tracking devises to monitor their employees’ travel. If an “alternative tracking device” is used to monitor employees, such monitoring must be “strictly necessary” for the performance of the employees’ duties. The bill also defines “monitor” to include “locating, tracking, watching, listening to, or otherwise surveilling the employee,” and specifies that an employer can only “monitor” their employees during work hours. To that end, the statute permits an employee to disable the alternative tracking device’s monitoring capabilities, including vehicle location technology, outside of work hours. Additionally, the alternative device must display a visual indication that GPS is in active use.

Employers who install an alternative tracking device must provide notice to employees prior to conducting any monitoring. The notice must include the following:

  • a description of the specific activities that will be monitored;
  • a description of the worker data that will be collected as a part of the monitoring;
  • a notification of whether the data gathered through monitoring will be used to make or inform any employment-related decisions, including, but not limited to, disciplinary and termination decisions, and, if so, how, including any associated benchmarks;
  • a description of the vendors or other third parties, if any, to whom information collected, be disclosed, or transferred. The description shall include the name of the vendor or third party and the purpose for the data transfer;
  • a description of the organizational positions that are authorized to access the data gathered through the alternative device;
  • a description of the dates, times, and frequency that the monitoring will occur;
  • a description of where the data will be stored and the length of time it will be retained;
  • a notification of the employee’s right to disable monitoring, including vehicle location technology, outside of work hours.

Employers who are in violation of the requirements of AB 984 will be subject to civil penalties of $250 for the initial violation, and $1,000 per employee for each subsequent violation. The penalty will be calculated per employee, per violation, and per each day monitoring is conducted without proper notice. The Labor Commissioner has enforcement authority and may issue citations against an offending employer.

Next Steps for Employers

Employers who utilize an alternative device to track employees should prepare a compliant notice that all relevant employees review and sign prior to conducting any monitoring of those employees. Internal information that is not related to job performance and tracking of off-duty activities would not only violate AB 984, but it could also violate California constitutional rights to privacy and/or the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA). Employers may also consider contacting counsel to prepare the required notice and/or to discuss specifics of this new law. ArentFox Schiff LLP is available to assist with either or both undertakings.


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