Be Cautious in Using License Plate Covers

The in basket: Craig Tompkins of Bremerton, who got a bum steer from a couple of law enforcement officers about when fog lamps can be lit on one’s car, the subject of a Road Warrior in April, said one “also indicated that the clear plastic license plate covers I had installed were also illegal and also subject to a $101 fine.”


The in basket: Craig Tompkins of Bremerton, who got a bum steer from a couple of law enforcement officer about when fog lamps can be lit on one’s car, the subject of a Road Warrior in April, said one “also indicated that the clear plastic license plate covers I had installed were also illegal and also subject to a $101 fine. 
“While I was aware that one could not obscure license plates, I just assumed that referred to the use of tinted plastic covers on plates and that crystal clear (i.e. not foggy, scratched, or tinted) covers were OK. Wrong again!   That leads me to wonder why stores still sell all sorts of plastic covers and tell you it is perfectly legal to use them when asked specifically whether it is or not.”
The out basket: Trooper Brian George of the local state patrol detachment said there isn’t an absolute prohibition against clear covers, or tinted ones, for that matter, but troopers may find that some violate the law on obscuring one’s license plate.
That law forbids display on a vehicle of plates “which have been in any manner changed, altered, disfigured or have become illegible. License plate frames may be used on vehicle license number plates,” it continues, “only if the frames do not obscure license tabs or identifying letters or numbers on the plates and the plates can be plainly seen and read at all times. It is unlawful to use any holders, frames, or any materials that in any manner change, alter, or make the vehicle license number plates illegible.”
Clear plastic covers can reflect light at night, hiding the numbers, or get condensation inside, and they would be illegal at those times.
“It’s important for law enforcement officers to read license plates,” Brian said. “such as in calls about aggressive drivers and DUIs, we want to waste time being behind the wrong vehicles.”

One thought on “Be Cautious in Using License Plate Covers

  1. You wonder why stores still sell them? Simple, because it’s not up to the stores to know the law or enforce them. It’s your car and your responsibility to know the law.
    I like my tag cover. I choose to break the law and I like having that option. Thank you, stores, for giving me options.

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