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Warning Period Is Up for North Carolina's License Plate Frame Law

People put license plate frames on their vehicles for all sorts of reasons. Some advertise favorite businesses. Others simply never take off the frame given to them by the dealer. Still others like to support their alma mater. Whatever the reason, individuals who have frames around their license plates in North Carolina now risk a $100 traffic ticket.

In 2009, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law prohibiting license plate frames the block stickers or state names. While not all plate frames violate the law, drivers may find themselves facing a traffic fine if officers believe theirs is not legal.

For the last year, drivers may have been stopped for having a license plate frame that blocks part of the license plate, but they would not have been given a ticket. But the warning period has come to an end.

There are some traffic violations that can lead to fines, but are not considered "primary" offenses. This means that a driver cannot be pulled over simply because of that violation. Unfortunately, the new license plate frame law is not one of them. Drivers who are otherwise following the letter of the law could still be stopped by police and given the ticket.

Drivers who have a license plate frame should carefully look at it to make sure that no part of their plate is covered. Additionally, North Carolina businesses that use license plate covers as marketing tools should ensure that those frames do not violate the law. Lastly, universities should check that their license plate cover design leaves the state name and all stickers on the license plates visible.

Source: CBS 9, "Your License Plate Frame Could Cost You," Shantel Middleton, 29 Nov 2010

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