The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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.

(Via Jalopnik.)

Posted at 3:45 PM to Driver's Seat


I miss the old plates: simple, to the point. The space shuttle and the cowboy annoy me.

Posted by: Veronica at 5:16 PM on 15 February 2007

I'm with Veronica -- license plates shouldn't be billboards.

The one exception to the keep-it-simple rule that I approve of is the license plates issued by Canada's Northwest Territories and Nunavut Territory. The latter was split off from NWT in 1999, and they apparently are still using the same shape plate as the parent territory.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:08 AM on 16 February 2007

Law enforcement types have used the "obscured" tag routine as an excuse to stop cars for many years ... especially after the advent of the ramped up asset forfeiture statutes designed to fight money laundering, etc. 60 minutes did a great expose a few years ago on what was primarily Southern law enforcement's use of such subtefuges to up their random stop numbers and thereby their forfeitures. No doubt the law enforcement community has a vested interest in such periperal legislation as it could effect their use of this "tool".

Posted by: Ron at 1:34 PM on 18 February 2007