15 February 2007
You too can be framed
The dealer from whom I bought Gwendolyn fitted the car with not one but two metal license-plate frames, which must be considered overkill in a state which has no front plate. I removed them both, on the basis that the decklid badge he applied is probably enough advertising for him, and besides, the rear plate, which attaches only at the top, produces an annoying rattle when the trunk is closed with the frame in place.
If I lived in Texas, though, I could justify the removal by dint of living in Texas:
Texans who unintentionally cover even a small portion of their car's license plate can be stopped by police, ticketed and perhaps arrested for the offense, the state's highest criminal court ruled Wednesday.
The 8-1 decision left three Court of Criminal Appeals judges holding their noses proclaiming the statute "uncommonly bad," but acknowledging that the letter of the law prohibits drivers from encasing their license plate in a frame that obscures the state name, state nickname or even portions of the artwork.
The issue before the Court of Criminal Appeals focused on the Texas Transportation Code, which states: "A person commits an offense if the person attaches to or displays on a motor vehicle a number plate or registration insignia that . . . has a coating, covering or protective material that . . . alters or obscures the letters or numbers on the plate, the color of the plate, or another original design feature of the plate."
Judge Cathy Cochran suggested that Texas "enact a law that requires all design work and lettering on Texas license plates to be indented to provide a one-inch white margin at the edges," which strikes me as unlikely, given the tendency in all 50 states (well, maybe not Delaware) to cram in as much putative eye candy as possible.
I assume this doesn't apply to those of us who just visit Texas from time to time, but sometimes it's dangerous to assume things in Texas.