Controversy Over 'Eliminator' Continues

Posted February 4, 2003

— You might have heard of the Eliminator -- a piece of plastic that goes over a license plate designed to help drivers elude red-light cameras.

Wake County's district attorney said the court system will come after people who use it.

Tammy Maultsby was ticketed for having the device on her car and has been to court.

District Attorney Colin Willoughby said if Maultsby gave up her Eliminator, she would pay no fine or court costs. That is what happened, but she is not happy about it.

"I haven't violated any laws. The reason I got pulled over wasn't because I was violating anything -- I wasn't speeding, wasn't running through a red light. It was just because I had a piece of plastic on my back tag," she said.

Some attorneys said the North Carolina law that addresses covering license plates was drafted in 1937 and does not cover today's technology.

Willoughby disagrees.

"We think that the tag is designed to obscure your license plate and we think the law should be enforced. We're trying to get the message out to people so that they'll know that and voluntarily take them off. Otherwise, we'll have to enforce it through the courts," he said.

Attorney Bob Hensley said he would win a court case if he defended an Eliminator client.

"The law is still unclear as it was before, and this lady didn't do anything wrong. I think that was shown by the court and until it's changed by the General Assembly, other people can do the same thing, I think, without fear of retribution," he said.

"It's just a new wrinkle. It's one where technology has, maybe, been a step ahead of the law, but we're catching up," Willoughby said.

Raleigh is working on implementing a red-light camera program along with Chapel Hill, Cary and Durham. Fayetteville and Charlotte have systems in place.


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