AARoads Forum

User Content => Road Trips => Topic started by: djsinco on May 13, 2022, 04:57:32 PM

Title: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: djsinco on May 13, 2022, 04:57:32 PM
I've got a 1968 vintage yellow and black California license plate mounted on the front of my (2007) car. I live in a state where front license plates are not issued and anything affixed is considered legal.

I am concerned about an upcoming cross country road trip. I have heard contradictory opinions as to whether or not displaying what was once a legal license plate could lead to a traffic stop and/or citation.

Some have said, "if legal in your home state, it is legal in all 50." Others urge caution but without good reason.

Anyone have a link to a reputable source? Opinions are welcomed, but everyone knows they may or may not be correct...
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: Max Rockatansky on May 13, 2022, 05:00:49 PM
Unless you are willing to look up the traffic statutes for every single state you are going through then you aren’t going to get an accurate answer. 
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: kphoger on May 13, 2022, 05:08:03 PM
What |Max Rockatansky| said.  Laws will vary by state.

For example, Kansas law prohibits vehicles from displaying a front license plate, except for specific cases.  However, it only applies to Kansas-registered vehicles.
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: djsinco on May 13, 2022, 05:09:55 PM
That makes sense, thanks. I thought there might be a federal law involved, but, I think I'll likely just undo the pair of screws and leave the plate at home for my travels. Better safe than sorry!
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: kphoger on May 13, 2022, 05:51:04 PM
My assumption is that, even in a state where displaying such a front plate is out-and-out illegal, cops probably wouldn't bother you about a "vintage" plate.  My assumption is that they would take more of an issue with still-current base plates.

However, the 1963 California base plate (which yours is) doesn't look a whole lot different from, say, the 1977 base plate.  I'm unaware of any yellow-on-blue bases from that era that are still allowed to be in use, although there are still some from the 1984 (The Golden State) base floating around—but I shouldn't assume any police officers outside of California would know just by looking at your 1963 base that it isn't still a valid plate.
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: djsinco on May 13, 2022, 06:42:38 PM
No sense in taking any risk, now that I have thought it through more.

I have heard of motorists stopped in the Northeast states by police who were oblivious to the fact that not all states require two plates.

People get pulled over for the officers ignorance, and then that could lead somewhere unpleasant...
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: jemacedo9 on May 14, 2022, 07:54:12 AM
PA got rid of the registration sticker that went on the license plate a few years ago.  So many people left the old stickers on, and there were stories where PA residents with old "expired" stickers were getting pulled over in other states.

https://6abc.com/pennsylvania-news-penndot-registration-stickers-pa-sticker/2558213/ (https://6abc.com/pennsylvania-news-penndot-registration-stickers-pa-sticker/2558213/)

Best case...it was a nuisance stop that wasted time but no other issues
Worse case...people got citations even with valid registrations that had to be fought..and being out of state, how easy would that be to fight if a court appearance is required
Worse case...if that prompted the ol' "probable cause" trick...
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: SectorZ on May 14, 2022, 08:21:09 AM
PA got rid of the registration sticker that went on the license plate a few years ago.  So many people left the old stickers on, and there were stories where PA residents with old "expired" stickers were getting pulled over in other states.

https://6abc.com/pennsylvania-news-penndot-registration-stickers-pa-sticker/2558213/ (https://6abc.com/pennsylvania-news-penndot-registration-stickers-pa-sticker/2558213/)

Best case...it was a nuisance stop that wasted time but no other issues
Worse case...people got citations even with valid registrations that had to be fought..and being out of state, how easy would that be to fight if a court appearance is required
Worse case...if that prompted the ol' "probable cause" trick...

Geez that's dumb. Similar thing happened to my father with an inspection sticker. Got pulled over in CT because Connecticut's prior year inspection sticker color was the same as Massachusetts' current year sticker. The state trooper was so zoned in on looking at the sticker he couldn't be bothered to realize it was from a different state. Not a confidence builder for me in that organization. He very meekly let my father go without even checking license and reg at that point.
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: hbelkins on May 14, 2022, 07:51:05 PM
My wife has a personalized old Kentucky plate from a years-ago issue on the front of her vehicle. She's driven all over the country, from Texas and Oklahoma to Minnesota to Georgia and North Carolina to Massachusetts, with no issues.
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: kkt on May 14, 2022, 09:33:36 PM
It should be the work of 2 minutes with a socket wrench to take it off, and put it back on when you return to Fla. if you wish.

It can be legal not to have a front license plate without it being legal to display a plate that is no longer registered for your car on it.
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: mrsman on May 18, 2022, 11:56:31 AM
It should be the work of 2 minutes with a socket wrench to take it off, and put it back on when you return to Fla. if you wish.

It can be legal not to have a front license plate without it being legal to display a plate that is no longer registered for your car on it.

Right.  I don't think I fully understand what OP has on his car, but if he has a rear FL license plate that is registered to his vehicle, but a front plate with a different number and different state that is not registered to his vehicle and doesn't match the rear plate, it would seem odd/suspicious. 
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: formulanone on May 18, 2022, 12:00:30 PM
Florida is usually pretty okay with this, from prior experience. There's loads of out-of-state/country plates and non-standard vanity plates on the front of cars, but they're pretty loose on that, since it's a one-plate state.

Other states, it just doesn't seem as common. Still best to consult the state statutes.
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: kphoger on May 18, 2022, 12:29:47 PM
Florida is usually pretty okay with this, from prior experience. There's loads of out-of-state/country plates and non-standard vanity plates on the front of cars, but they're pretty loose on that, since it's a one-plate state.

As alluded to by the OP, Florida has no laws at all—except for trucks over 13 tons—regarding the spot where a front license plate would normally go.

https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/0316.605
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: Rothman on May 18, 2022, 12:46:48 PM
It should be the work of 2 minutes with a socket wrench to take it off, and put it back on when you return to Fla. if you wish.

It can be legal not to have a front license plate without it being legal to display a plate that is no longer registered for your car on it.

Right.  I don't think I fully understand what OP has on his car, but if he has a rear FL license plate that is registered to his vehicle, but a front plate with a different number and different state that is not registered to his vehicle and doesn't match the rear plate, it would seem odd/suspicious.
I had neighbors who had an MA plate on the back and then a Northwest Territories plate on the front (with the polar bear shape).  You're making me wonder of they still have it after all these years.
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: kkt on May 18, 2022, 01:17:49 PM
It should be the work of 2 minutes with a socket wrench to take it off, and put it back on when you return to Fla. if you wish.

It can be legal not to have a front license plate without it being legal to display a plate that is no longer registered for your car on it.

Right.  I don't think I fully understand what OP has on his car, but if he has a rear FL license plate that is registered to his vehicle, but a front plate with a different number and different state that is not registered to his vehicle and doesn't match the rear plate, it would seem odd/suspicious.
I had neighbors who had an MA plate on the back and then a Northwest Territories plate on the front (with the polar bear shape).  You're making me wonder of they still have it after all these years.

I love the Northwest Territories plates! 
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: Scott5114 on May 21, 2022, 11:24:03 PM
Of note is that I believe California allows you to register extremely old plates so long as the year of the plate/sticker is the model year of the car. So a 1968 CA plate can be legally registered in California...but only on a 1968 car. So, assuming you drive a modern car, it could cause problems if you were to visit California, or any other state that is near enough to CA that a cop might be familiar with their laws.

As you already concluded, the safest thing to do is just leave the plate in Florida.
Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: jeffandnicole on May 21, 2022, 11:45:55 PM
No sense in taking any risk, now that I have thought it through more.

I have heard of motorists stopped in the Northeast states by police who were oblivious to the fact that not all states require two plates.

People get pulled over for the officers ignorance, and then that could lead somewhere unpleasant...

I doubt that happened.  PA doesn't require 2 plates; numerous other states as well.  Sometimes those stories tend to generate legs...

Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: michravera on May 22, 2022, 12:37:01 AM
Of note is that I believe California allows you to register extremely old plates so long as the year of the plate/sticker is the model year of the car. So a 1968 CA plate can be legally registered in California...but only on a 1968 car. So, assuming you drive a modern car, it could cause problems if you were to visit California, or any other state that is near enough to CA that a cop might be familiar with their laws.

As you already concluded, the safest thing to do is just leave the plate in Florida.

You have at least two problems, if you visit California:
1) Some newer (vanity, I believe) California plates are the same colors as the plates issued 1963-8
2) California is a two-plate state and displaying different front and rear plates might very well confuse law enforcement and trigger a stop, even if it turns out to be completely legal.

I don't know if "some lumphead from Florida trying to be cute" is regarded as "probable cause or reasonable suspicion", but I know that I wouldn't want to have to try to contest the validity of the arrest, if the officer finds any subsequent violations of any laws. So, if you decide, despite my advice and that of others to drive with it on your car, please make sure that you don't provide evidence of any other violations. For instance, throw your old beer cans in the recycle bin before you leave the party. Keep any open liquor bottles resealed as much as may be, in a suitcase in the truck. Make sure that any legal marijuana is clearly identified as purchased in state (and thoroughly clean your ash trays), etc. Basically, don't break any other laws, no matter how chickenshit.

I'd say, keep the plate and use it when you show off your car in a car show or use the car in a music video or whatever. I wouldn't drive with it on the road much outside of Florida.

Title: Re: Could I receive a citation for the...
Post by: kphoger on May 23, 2022, 02:45:54 PM
Of note is that I believe California allows you to register extremely old plates so long as the year of the plate/sticker is the model year of the car. So a 1968 CA plate can be legally registered in California...but only on a 1968 car.

Kansas is like that too.

Just the other day, I saw a 1968 (or something) license plate on a car that was most definitely a LOT newer than 1968.  Like, it was from the 2000s.  wtf?