Local News

N.C. drivers face fines for obscuring license plates

Posted November 30, 2010 12:58 p.m. EST
Updated November 30, 2010 5:52 p.m. EST

— Beginning Wednesday, any vehicle owner whose license plate frame covers up any wording or stickers could face a fine.

The General Assembly passed the law last year to make sure numbers, letters, the state name and the number and month on the registration renewal sticker can be seen.

"It has been a year. We have not issued any citations for this violation up to this point. We've given verbal warnings or written warnings," said Sgt. Jeff Gordon, spokesman for the state Highway Patrol.

Violators can be penalized up to $100, but Gordon said troopers can use discretion to decide whether a plate frame is illegal. The law applies only to vehicles registered in North Carolina.

State Sen. Malcolm Graham, D-Mecklenburg, said he plans to take the frame off his license plate before Wednesday after a WRAL News crew found the frame obscured the state name on the plate of his BMW, which was parked outside the Legislative Building.

But George Outlaw said he doesn't know why he needs to remove his license plate frame, which he says adds "pizazz" to his pickup.

"I don't see where it's actually a problem because it's not covering up the whole state," Outlaw said.

Gordon said many states use the same red, white and blue color scheme that North Carolina uses on their license plates, so it's harder for law enforcement officers to obtain registration information if they can't see the state name.

“A lot of times, if you can’t see the state or the year and the month. Then, what we’ll find a lot of times is people sometimes hide that because either they have a lapse in insurance or their tags are fictitious. So, it becomes an officer safety issue,” he said.

"As you get your tag, as it comes off the production line, put it on the vehicle just as it is," he said.

"I think I'll probably just have to take (the frame) off and make it legal," Outlaw said.