119K received a ticket last year for this

119K received a ticket last year for this

12 Nisan 2018 - 02:00

I'm a New York Giants fan and a potential lawbreaker. You also might be on the wrong side of the law, too, depending on what's on your car.

The frame around my license plate that proclaims my Giants allegiance just touches the top of the "New Jersey" lettering and covers part of the slogan at the bottom of the plate. And that could be a problem.

If a police officer decides to apply the letter of the law, covering up all or part of the "New Jersey" or "Garden State" lettering could be considered obstructing the license plate. Last year, 119,427 summons were issued for various charges of obscuring license plates, according to the state Judiciary. 

Are police officers out to enforce this seemingly minor infraction or is there another reason these tickets are being written?

"NJTA license plate frame on an NJ Transit bus.Larry Higgs | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

"I think drivers cited for covering up New Jersey or Garden State is going a little too far, but I am sure there are cops that do write for the violation," said Anthony Parenti Sr., a retired police chief and head of the New Jersey Traffic Safety Officers Association. 

 A driver who deliberately tries to hide or alter their  plate number or letters deserves a summons, Parenti said. Frames that obscure part of the plate should prompt a warning to the driver, if part of the plate is unreadable, he said.  

Car dealers include them for free advertising when they bolt license plates on a new vehicle. Other people have frames, to proclaim their love of everything from poodles to pro-sports. Even NJ Transit buses have a thin chrome license frame. 

Drivers do complain about getting ticketed, including some who said they've had frames on their vehicle for more than a decade before they were ticketed. 

But some cops write an obstructed plate ticket to spare a more severe charge with motor vehicle points, others said.

"Someone with an obscured plate (charge) invariably has been pulled over for another reason and given a break," said Jim Appleton, New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers president. "I know this from personal experience. I know the frame on my plate was compliant. I was grateful for the officer saying slow down (and issuing a obscured plate summons)." 

Most dealers issue license plate frames that comply with the law, he said.

"There are plate frames that are not (compliant)," he said. "Some dealers will handle it for the customer and pay the fine."

That gray area could be clarified if a state assemblyman's proposal makes it to a vote of the senate and assembly.

Legislation proposed by State Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, R-Monmouth, would prevent drivers from being ticketed for a license plate frame they didn't put on their vehicle.

The bill would remove the obstruction provision from the law for license plate frames installed by the dealer, as long as they don't cover letters and numbers. The proposal doesn't address other frames drivers buy and display.

While this bill only covers dealer issued license plate frames, it could be amended to include other types, Dancer said.

He proposed his bill after reading news articles about license-plate frame tickets. Dancer's bill was introduced in January and is waiting for a hearing by the Assembly Transportation Committee.

While the dealer's association didn't request the bill, Appleton said they're grateful for it. He suggested a bill could provide measurements to define exactly what size frame is allowed by the law.

 Larry Higgs may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @commutinglarry. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


Kaynak:Nj.com

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