No License Plate, No Problem!

Fox 4 News had an interesting story on the front license plate law.  The law has always been that you have to have a front and back license plate on your car.  Other states, however, only require a back plate.

Some people don't know about this law, or purposely defy it because they don't want to drill holes in their front bumper.

Time and time again, I have seen local police use this as an excuse to pull people over to see if they have been drinking.  Its one of the may little traffic laws that law enforcement use as a pretext to stop a car when they are only looking for drunk drivers.

Well, based on some mishaps in Austin, it looks they missed this one.  Below is the story:

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Texas Lawmakers Accidentally Omit 2 License Plate Law

DALLAS - Vehicles in Texas must display both front and back license plates. It’s been a state law since 1934. But lawmakers in rewriting the state transportation code recently made what could be a serious omission.

“Absolutely it is a potentially very big problem,” said Robert Gregg, a criminal defense and personal injury attorney. “The issue is not whether it is a fine. That’s where we start. The issue is whether or not it’s a crime.”

The old law read, “A person commits an offense if the person operates… a passenger car or commercial motor vehicle that does not display two license plates at the front and rear of the vehicle.”

In the new bill passed into law on the last day of the session that language was accidentally struck from the measure.

“Problem is they didn’t move it over to the new section, therefore it’s not a crime,” Gregg said.

And if the offense is no crime, law enforcement officials may no longer be able to pull people over for it.

“It is fairly common. Unfortunately in this state people don’t really adhere to the two plate rule like they should. They put a lot of their school logos or their favorite football or baseball team and it is against the law. It is a crime,” said Sgt. Don Pertiz with the Dallas County Sheriff's Department.

Pertiz said the law is often used as a tool to stop criminals on the streets.

“You’d be surprised how many offenses we uncover that start with no front license plate,” he said.

Trying to rectify the wrong, El Paso lawmaker Joe Pickett, who wrote the bill, has asked the attorney general for an opinion on whether it is a Class C misdemeanor not to display two license plates on a motor vehicle.

“Most times they don’t give you a ticket for this so the issue of not having a fine is not really it. The issue is they’ve taken out that it’s an offense. It’s not an offense. They can’t use it to pull somebody over, which they use it every day all day long,” Gregg said.

Pertiz said officers will likely continue to issue tickets based on the original law and let the courts worry about it.

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
john - March 4, 2012 11:53 AM

Yes they stopped my friend and gave him a warning. My friend told them the law was no longer valid. He said he knew but he was still gonna stop people. Well we plan on taking him to federal court. US 42 1983 is what we will claim on a host of violations!! It's time this type of crap stops. I hope we can get case law in the books on this matter and make an impression on the rest of these rouges. My son also got a warning about a week after my friend did! I guess that will be another one in the courts!

Hunter - March 4, 2012 11:59 AM

Go get 'em John!

Jose - March 21, 2013 10:21 PM

If you get pulled over for no front plate can a peace officer detaned you? Since this is no longer a crime

JJ - March 31, 2014 10:40 AM

Recommend you don't question what a police officer can and cannot do in Texas. He/she is the authority of law and you are the suspect for what ever probable cause he/she has in his/her mind. Go to court on the citation if one is issued and don't answer any of the officers "friendly" questions other than to present ID, registration and insurance certificate.

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