On the Road: License plates required, front and back

By in Press Enterprise on June 18, 2017

By Amy Bentley

Q. Murrieta resident Peter Thorwarth asked, “Why do so many California cars and trucks have just dealer plates or no plates at all? My estimate is at least one out of 20.”

He adds: “Cars and trucks that have no license plate can get away with everything from driving through tollbooths to hit-and-run.”

A. It’s hard to speculate any driver’s motivation, but the law is clear on this issue: the California Vehicle Code Section 5200-5206 requires every car in California to display a front and a rear license plate.

Retired CHP Lt. Mike Soubirous, a longtime CHP officer and expert on traffic matters, said sometimes drivers try to hide their plates.

“Plates cannot have a covering and can’t be modified. I’ve seen people add louvers to them, paint them different colors, add stickers and decals to ‘enhance’ the plates,” he said.

And starting in 2019, license plates on new cars won’t be an issue.

Under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in July 2016, new vehicles won’t leave the dealership without a temporary plate.

California currently requires that new cars display only a notice of sale, which is hard to see from a distance, until the permanent plates arrive.

The author of the new law, Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, said at the time that it aims to stop toll-road cheats and will help police identify vehicles on the road.

Q. Greg Parsons, of Yucaipa, said he was driving south on I-215 between I-10 and the 60 and noticed the sign for the carpool lane said the minimum fine for illegally driving in the lane is $341.

Parsons asked, “I turned on to the 60 heading west and the (carpool) sign at Market Street said the minimum fine is $481. What is the actual minimum fine for driving in the (carpool) lane and why the discrepancy between the two […]    

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