You May Be Breaking the Law and Not Know It

             Did you know that every time you get into your car and drive, you may be breaking the law? How? That dealership or novelty license plate frame on your car, at least that is the rule in Kansas.  

            The state of Kansas requires that your license plate be “in a place and position to be clearly visible, and shall be maintained free from foreign materials and in a condition to be clearly legible.” K.S.A. 8-133. This means that your license plate frame can violate this provision in two ways. First, the frame is a “foreign material” and, thus, you are not keeping your license plate “free from foreign materials.” Second, the frame usually covers some part of your license plate and, as a result, the plate might not be “clearly legible.”

            The “foreign material” part of the statute is pretty self-explanatory in that any material is “foreign” if it is not a part of the license plate or registration sticker, provided by the state. However, the “clearly legible” part of the law warrants a little more explanation.

            The Kansas Court of Appeals stated that “clearly legible” means that “all of the tag must be legible.” State v. Hayes, 8 Kan. App 2d 531, 532 (1983). In Hayes, the defendant was stopped for having the state on her license plate partly obscured.  However, the officer who stopped the defendant testified that he could clearly read the words “The Hoosier State” on the license plate, but he did not know what state that meant. The court reasoned that while some, and maybe even many, people would know what state that meant, others would not, and the officer testified he did not. As a result, the court ruled that the officer was legally authorized to stop the vehicle.

             A violation of the display of license plate statute is punishable by a $60 fine. Consequently, if you have a license plate frame that partially obstructs any of the information on your license plate, do not be surprised if you get pulled over and fined for it. 

            If you have been cited for a violation of the display of license plate statute or another traffic offense, please do not hesitate to give us a call today.

Posted by Irving J. Jacobs