At times, you may question some laws. For example, license plate obstruction doesn’t seem like such a big deal. However, it can be the reason that a police officer pulls you over and you find yourself in even bigger trouble. It could be that collection of parking tickets has come back to haunt you. Or, maybe you ignored prior court hearings on something like a DWI or assault charges.
Here’s a scenario that you might recognize. You are driving through Elizabeth and get stopped by police at a checkpoint. You are not sure why. As it turns out, you have a metal license plate frame on your license plates that obscures part of the markings. This is against the law in New Jersey. And you probably had no idea.
The frame displays the name of the dealership where you bought your car. But it blocks the words “New Jersey” and “Garden State.”
License Plates Must be Clearly Visible
According to N.J.S.A. 39:3-33, it’s illegal to have a license plate frame that obscures any of the markings. This applies to both the front and rear plates.
The statute states: “No person shall drive a motor vehicle which has a license plate frame or identification marker holder that conceals or otherwise obscures any part of any marking imprinted upon the vehicle’s registration plate…”
This includes the state name and slogan. If a portion of the words “New Jersey” or “Garden State” is obscured on your license plate in any way, you can be stopped.
The fine for license plate obstruction is $54, not counting fees.
Last year, nearly 12,000 people received a ticket for an obstructed license plate. Once again, if you get pulled over for this violation, the police may find other reasons to give you a ticket or have probable cause for an arrest. Something seemingly simple can turn into a big deal.
Bottom line: If you are driving around with a license plate frame—even if it proudly displays your favorite sports team or alma matter—you are at risk of a ticket. An easy and quick fix is to take a screwdriver and pop off the license plate frame.
If you have a dispute over New Jersey’s license plate laws, you should contact a New Jersey traffic lawyer. The Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo can help you regarding the proper placement or display of license plates, or assist you with any other charges that might have arisen from being stopped for license plate obstruction. Call today for a free consultation.