Many NJ drivers have an illegal license plate frame that could result in a ticket

Most people don’t even realize they’re breaking the law

A measure to change the law got bogged down, but it could soon be passed in Trenton

For years New Jersey legislators have been talking about fixing a law that to many, seems beyond ridiculous.

If the frame that surrounds the license plate on your vehicle covers any part of any lettering on the plate in the Garden State, even if the letters are clearly visible, it is still considered illegal and you could wind up getting a $100 ticket for it.

Two years ago the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that if the edges of the lettering on a license plate are covered by a plate frame but the plate itself is still legible, then it is not a violation of law.

Police must enforce it

State Sen. Pat Diegnan, D-Middlesex, said the problem is, technically speaking, until the law is actually changed, police have to follow it.

“Their job is to enforce the law, so clearly if they saw it and it was obvious, they would pull folks over,” he said.

(David Lentz, Getty Images)
(David Lentz, Getty Images)

He pointed out that over the past five years more than 400,000 tickets have been written. But those days could soon be over.

Diegnan introduced a measure, S2381, to change the law 10 months ago and it wound up getting stalled. The bill could finally come up for a vote in the State Senate.

“It’s just common sense," he said. "You don’t need to put the burden on police officers to pull people over because they have a Rutgers frame on their license plate or a Go Irish on your license plate.”

Most folks don't realize they're law-breakers

He pointed out many New Jerseyans don’t even know they are breaking the law because new cars usually have frames that feature the name of the dealership that may be partially covering a small area on the plate.

Why was this law created?

He said no one seems to be exactly sure but “I guess the original intent was, you don’t want somebody involved in an accident being able to leave and you can’t identify the plates. But we all know that isn’t what was happening.”

Police crime scene
Brian Jackson ThinkStock

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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