License plate frame stops could soon be outlawed in NJ (Opinion)
Just a few weeks ago I wrote about two State Supreme Court decisions. Both involved license plate frame obstruction and both had very different outcomes.
In one, drugs were found in a car after the driver was pulled over because his license plate frame was obstructing the lettering of New Jersey and Garden State.
In the other a gun was found in a car after the driver was pulled over because of the same thing.
The drug case stuck because the State Supreme Court found the frame really did obstruct enough of the lettering so that you truly couldn’t tell what state issued the plate.
The gun case was thrown out however because the court found such a small amount of the lettering was covered (as is usually the case in these frame stops) you could still easily read it was from New Jersey.
Now a NJ lawmaker, Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, wants to take it to the next level. He has introduced legislation that would take plate obstruction off the books unless the actual plate number itself was obscured.
“My bill will help prevent thousands of drivers from being pulled over for minor license plate frame violations,” Dancer told nj.com. “New Jersey drivers should not have to spend time and money seeking recourse through the court system. The law as it is written is too vague and needs to be clarified by the state legislature.”
Agreed. Law enforcement too often uses this frame obstruction statute as a pretext stop; basically using whatever minor offense to pull someone over with the truer reason being to check out who and what may be in the vehicle.
Right now his bill only mentions those frames that are put on by the car dealer. You know the ones they use as free advertising for themselves? But he plans on fixing it to reflect all license plate frames.
It’s a good bill. Any cop can recognize a Jersey plate in their home state without seeing anything other than the color and font style. As long as an officer can clearly read the actual plate number specific to that car that’s really all they need.
Why wasn’t this clarified years ago? Do you know how many drivers have been ticketed for license plate frame obstruction? In a five year span (2016 to 2021) 482,481 citations were handed out for obscured plates. Not only has it been used as a pretext stop, even when they find nothing wrong in the car it’s still an unfair revenue grab for townships.
Get this law passed as soon as possible. And do something about those stick figure families too!
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.