12/03/09 — License plate holders must meet guidelines

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License plate holders must meet guidelines

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 3, 2009 1:46 PM

The popular decorative frames that people put around their vehicle's license plate could end up costing them $100.

A new law went into effect Tuesday that requires the state's name across the bottom of the plate as well as the year and month stickers on a license plate to be fully visible.

The plates can no longer even be partially covered by a license frame.

Vehicle owners can be cited for committing an infraction and, after Nov. 30, 2010, fined $100 for the violation.

Up until then, it will be up to the discretion of a law enforcement officer to decide whether to issue a verbal warning or a warning ticket, Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Jerry Burton said.

"The reason for giving a year is to let the general public get used to the new law," he said.

The law was introduced in the 2009 session of the General Assembly and was supported by law enforcement officials because it increases the readability of registration information on the plates and helps identify vehicles registered in North Carolina.

Burton said it is important that officers, as well as the public, be able to read the plates.

It is of particular importance in the investigation of hit and run collisions whose number is on the increase, he said.

"If they can't read the license plate, then there is no information they can give us that description of vehicle," he said.

The license plate information is vital -- it provides the owner's name and address, Burton said.

"It can lead us to finishing an investigation," he said.

Burton said the use of the frames is on the increase.

"People feel that since the items are being sold that there is no problem with them putting them on their vehicles," he said. "We want to be able to read the license plate for any registered vehicle."