Get Rid of Your License Plate Frame

While we continue to await the return of DUI checkpoints to the Jersey Shore, the Law Office of Frederick P. Sisto is happy to provide tips to help you avoid a wrongful DUI conviction. A key to avoiding convictions is avoiding a motor vehicle stop in the first place.

New Jersey courts will not consider a police officer’s motives in stopping you, so long as there was an objective basis for the stop. One very common objective basis concerns license plate borders. N.J.S.A. 39:3-33 provides in relevant part that “No person shall drive a motor vehicle which has a license plate frame or identification marker holder that conceals or otherwise obscures any part of any marking imprinted upon the vehicle’s registration plate”.

Almost every license plate frame provided by a car dealer or sold as an accessory obscures a tiny part of the plate’s letters or numbers. This is especially true of the words “New Jersey” and “Garden State” at the very top and bottom of the plate. If you are driving around with a license plate frame, chances are you can be legally stopped by the police at any time for reasonable suspicion of violating N.J.S.A. 39:3-33. It is not a defense that your vehicle came that way from the car dealer.

Once stopped, the sight or smell of alcohol, marijuana, or any other contraband will be the basis for further investigation and a potential arrest. The solution is to maintain a license plate free from anything that obscures its markings. This includes removing natural elements like snow and dirt.

Stay tuned for additional tips, remember that the best DUI defense is a designated driver, and have a Happy Halloween.