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Front plates in Calif

Sunday my son went to a driving class, and part of it included Q&A with a traffic safety officer and a highway patrol officer, so after the main group was done I walked up and talked to them a bit about front license plates. These were both senior guys used to talking to the public and they did look up the current vehicle code section, but as always, YMMV.

Have there been any recent changes in enforcement of the front plate laws?

Both said no. One of them had heard of the connection to red light cameras, but he added the cameras take a pict of both the front and back of the vehicle. Concern with front plates included thieves removing the front plate, use on a different car, and use of a car without a front plate to commit a crime. The CHP officer said its often an individual preference, some officers will cite you and some won't.

Whats the code requirement for the front plate?

Less than 60" from the ground with no minimum in the front (rear has min), solid mounting (no swinging flap), and no lamination or obstruction.

I think I may wait for the first ticket, but I am already "thinking" about the best below the bumper location.

*** Cuffed and stuffed
Both officers said they didn't go by any specific speed, like 85 mph, to decide between cite and impounding the car. CHP said he had written tickets without impound as high as 115 mph, and that is was a combination of speed, driving conditions, and driving behavior.

*** Exhibition of speed.
Both claimed broad authority for issuing a citation, even if its just you and a cop you don't see. Tire slip is accepted as a "loss of control", but I kinda wonder if it stands up to expert scrutiny.
Old 05-13-2008, 11:46 AM
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Cal Vehicle Code:

Display of License Plates
5200. (a) When two license plates are issued by the department for use upon a vehicle, they shall be attached to the vehicle for which they were issued, one in the front and the other in the rear.

(b) When only one license plate is issued for use upon a vehicle, it shall be attached to the rear thereof , unless the license plate is issued for use upon a truck tractor, in which case the license plate shall be displayed in accordance with Section 4850.5.
Amended Sec. 27, Ch. 594, Stats. 2003. Effective January 1, 2004.
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Old 05-13-2008, 04:32 PM
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VC 5201

Positioning of Plates
5201. License plates shall at all times be securely fastened to the vehicle for which they are issued so as to prevent the plates from swinging, shall be mounted in a position so as to be clearly visible, and shall be maintained in a condition so as to be clearly legible. The rear license plate shall be mounted not less than 12 inches nor more than 60 inches from the ground, and the front license plate shall be mounted not more than 60 inches from the ground, except as follows:

(a) The rear license plate on a tow truck may be mounted on the left-hand side of the mast assembly at the rear of the cab of the vehicle, not less than 12 inches nor more than 90 inches from the ground.

(b) The rear license plate on a tank vehicle hauling hazardous waste, as defined in Section 25117 of the Health and Safety Code, or asphalt material may be mounted not less than 12 inches nor more than 90 inches from the ground.

(c) The rear license plate on a truck tractor may be mounted at the rear of the cab of the vehicle, but not less than 12 inches nor more than 90 inches from the ground.

(d) The rear license plate of a vehicle designed by the manufacturer for the collection and transportation of garbage, rubbish, or refuse that is used regularly for the collection and transportation of that material by any person or governmental entity employed to collect, transport, and dispose of garbage, rubbish, or refuse may be mounted not less than 12 inches nor more than 90 inches from the ground.

(e) The rear license plate on a two-axle livestock trailer may be mounted 12 inches or more, but not more than 90 inches, from the ground.

(f) ( )1 A covering ( )2 shall not be used on license plates except as follows:

(1) The installation of a cover over a lawfully parked vehicle to protect it from the weather and the elements does not constitute a violation of this subdivision. Any peace officer or other regularly salaried employee of a public agency designated to enforce laws, including local ordinances, relating to the parking of vehicles may temporarily remove so much of the cover as is necessary to inspect any license plate, tab, or indicia of registration on a vehicle.

(2) The installation of a license plate security cover is not a violation of this subdivision if the device does not obstruct or impair the recognition of the license plate information, including, but not limited to, the issuing state, license plate number, and registration tabs, and the cover is limited to the area directly over the top of the registration tabs. No portion of a license plate security cover shall rest over the license plate number.

( )1 A casing, shield, frame, border, product, or other device that obstructs or impairs the reading or recognition of a license plate by an electronic device operated by state or local law enforcement, an electronic device operated in connection with a toll road, high-occupancy toll lane, toll bridge, or other toll facility, or a remote emission sensing device, as specified in Sections 44081 and 44081.6 of the Health and Safety Code, shall not be installed on, or affixed to, a vehicle.

(h) (1) It is the ( )3 intent of the Legislature that an accommodation be made to persons with disabilities and to those persons who regularly transport persons with disabilities, to allow the removal and relocation of wheelchair lifts and wheelchair carriers without the necessity of removing and reattaching the vehicle's rear license plate. Therefore, it is not a violation of this section if the reading or recognition of a rear license plate is obstructed or impaired by a wheelchair lift or wheelchair carrier and all of the following requirements are met:

(A) The owner of the vehicle has been issued a special identification license plate pursuant to Section 5007, or the person using the wheelchair that is carried on the vehicle has been issued a distinguishing placard under Section 22511.55.

(B) (i) The operator of the vehicle displays a decal, designed and issued by the department, that contains the license plate number assigned to the vehicle transporting the wheelchair.

(ii) The decal is displayed on the rear window of the vehicle, in a location determined by the department, in consultation with the Department of the California Highway Patrol, so as to be clearly visible to law enforcement.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a decal is displayed pursuant to this subdivision, the requirements of this code that require the illumination of the license plate and the license plate number do not apply.

(3) The department shall adopt regulations governing the procedures for accepting and approving applications for decals, and issuing decals, authorized by this subdivision.

(4) This subdivision does not apply to a front license plate.

Amended Sec. 16, Ch. 1007, Stats. 1999. Effective January 1, 2000.
Amended Sec. 2, Ch. 626, Stats. 2003. Effective January 1, 2004.
Amended Sec. 6, Ch. 650, Stats. 2004. Effective January 1, 2005.
Amended Sec. 1, Ch. 273, Stats. 2007. Effective January 1, 2008.
The 2007 amendment added the italicized material, and at the point(s) indicated, deleted the following:

"No"
"may"
"Legislature’s"
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Old 05-13-2008, 04:40 PM
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So basically, there is a law written. They can enforce this if they wish. It's always Officer discretion for such a small infraction. You can take your chances or just comply. Just boils down to your car and your wallet.
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Last edited by MPDano; 05-13-2008 at 04:42 PM..
Old 05-13-2008, 04:40 PM
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My 83 the previous owner totally removed any sign of mounting points on the front.

My 85 has the plate in the normal spot.
Old 05-13-2008, 05:00 PM
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I have a 94 Ford Ranger for a daily driver, got it new, and I never put the front plate on it except this one:


Only problem I've had is going sober through a sobriety check point here in El Cajon... ECPD's finest asked me where my front plate was, told him behind the seat. He got kind of gruff and asked what it was doing back there, and before I could answer, angrily told me to get that plate where it's supposed to go or I'd get a ticket, then waved me through. That was about 10 years ago.

I've gotten 2 tickets in the past decade, CHP made no comment on not having a front license plate.

Not having a front license plate gives LE an excuse to pull you over, you are already doing something wrong. I can live with that because the only thing wrong I'd ever be doing is not having the license plate on the front.

It was probably not as big an issue in the past as it is now being that cities throughout the state use redlight cameras to raise revenue.
Old 05-13-2008, 07:00 PM
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My day to bump some old threads. We recently got a CHP ticket for tint on driver window, and that led me to dig into the front plate issue. Bottom line, CHP is getting very sticky on front plates, due I think to the camera's that read the plates automatically.

I think I'm back to looking for a tow hook plate holder again.
Old 10-16-2017, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danglerb View Post
My day to bump some old threads. We recently got a CHP ticket for tint on driver window, and that led me to dig into the front plate issue. Bottom line, CHP is getting very sticky on front plates, due I think to the camera's that read the plates automatically.

I think I'm back to looking for a tow hook plate holder again.
You know better Mike. Both laws have been on the book for years. Just comply and you won't get tased, lol.
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Old 10-16-2017, 09:53 AM
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License Plate Regulations

On our recent return trip from Colorado we were pulled over by an unmarked state trooper out in the middle of New Mexico for an obstructed rear license plate. As he approached I was all set to defend myself against a speeding ticket by throwing myself on the mercy of the court but was surprised to be asked to the back of Miss Purdy to look at a partially obstructive license plate frame.

When I offered to remove the offending frame, he said now that he sees it close up, it appeared to be a boarder line issue ? He then said "The rear plate was also boarder line too low to the ground, drive careful and slow down" - then turned to walk back to his cruiser....

Some license plate regulations seem a bit ambiguous.

Screw driver at the ready, Michael
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Last edited by JK McDonald; 10-16-2017 at 03:39 PM..
Old 10-16-2017, 10:35 AM
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I did get popped about a year after my above post for no front plate on my way to work. Some kind of sting operation on one of the main streets, they had what looked like a control tower in a parking lot and a couple officers on motorcycles and cars pulling people over. Lots of people with tinted windows where getting popped that day, along with my no front plate.

Of course what used to be a no fee fix-it ticket now has a processing fee attached to it. The City was using their discretion to ticket heavily that day. Revenue.......
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Old 10-19-2017, 09:18 AM
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A fair number of people pay the "bail" amount which is I think $75 and leave the plates off and the tint on.

I removed the dealer installed tint, paid the fee, but now wife is wanting tint due to heat from sun etc, so next step is $200 for some fancy IR rejecting 92% visibility 3M film.
Old 10-26-2017, 04:51 AM
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As the CHP is writing your ticket, 50 cars will go whizzing by without front plates.

I'm sure we've all been pulled over for fitting a profile, The plate, widow tint, missing tag, tread depth, etc. Is usually discovered after you're already at the curb.

Also, It seems that cameras in the car are now becoming an unfortunate necessity these days just to keep everybody honest.

I had a Sheriff deputy pull me over just the other night claiming that he had to take "evasive action" because I had swerved in his lane. "Oh, wow, I'm really sorry officer! I assume you have video in your prowler of the event? " He looked over at the dash cam in front of my rear view mirror, asked me what was in my McDonald's cup, shined his light all over the inside of my car, told me to be careful, and left.

Naturally while we're talking, his buddy is running my plates and drivers license for wants and warrants, which is probably why he pulled me over in the first place.

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