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Diatribe: Nobody Tells Us That License Plate Covers Are Illegal.


Not too long ago, some friends of mine bought a new vehicle.  They shopped and shopped and studied manuals and websites for months before deciding to buy their SUV and, since they bought it, take great pride in its care and maintenance.  They’re an older couple and they added side rails to make it easier to get in and out, attached additional mirrors to be sure they could see any blind spots as they drive, and even put protective strips on the side of the doors so they wouldn’t knick other cars in parking lots.  They also put a clear cover over their license plate to help keep their ride neat and clean.

They were pulled over by a trooper earlier this week.

Not for speeding or any other moving violation, but because they had that plastic cover over their rear license plate.  License plates must be securely attached to the appropriate vehicle, should not swing freely, must have a minimum of twelve inches from the bottom of the plate to the ground, and must be clearly visible.  It is against our state laws to place any tinted materials over the plate.

Laws of this nature exist throughout the nation.  As the popularity of automated cameras at intersections grows, more people will undoubtedly get citations for using these covers.  Apparently, in addition to obscuring plates from an officer’s view, reflections on the covers can keep the cameras from doing their job.

A violation of this law is a misdemeanor and only carries a small fine.  But the question remains … Why are plastic license plate covers manufactured and sold if they are illegal in so many instances?  Certainly, these covers can be beneficial on the front of any moving vehicle (see Florida’s “love bugs”) but how is a consumer to know that they’re not legal on the back?  The packaging in which they are sold would appear to be the best place to share this information.

Did you know that these are illegal?

Copyright © 2012

From → Diatribes

  1. I think that varies from state to state. I guess it would be illegal because of the glare in some instances.


  2. It is pathetic that they were pulled over for this. I am sure there was probably some legit breaking the law happening elsewhere. Crazy – especially since it was clear!


  3. They should come with a warning label at least.. LOL


  4. I knew they were illegal in California, but I consider myself a purveyor of largely useless knowledge and random facts.


  5. Anonymous permalink

    I was pulled over for the cover today!! How can I know it is illegal?? The police told me it is a new policy and gave me a 150 ticket!! I’m gonna go to the court, and definitely won’t pay 150 for this!!


  6. Marty permalink

    Someone please tell me….specifically… a clear license plate cover illegal in the state of Florida?


    • It’s difficult to pinpoint state-by-state laws regarding licence plate covers. It appears that in some states they’re illegal and in others they’re allowed as long as they don’t obstruct the plate that they cover. Personally, I see no point in these covers and the packaging that they are sold in suggests that buyers check with local authorities before use. So, they’re selling something that could be illegal.

      I’ll never use one. It’d be just my luck to cross a state line, not know the local laws and have to pay a big fine.


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