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5/2/2005
DC Cracks Down on License Plate Covers
Using a plate cover to foil Washington, DC cameras will now result in a $500 ticket.

Police officers in Washington, DC may now pull over and issue a $500 ticket to anyone using a license plate cover or spray designed to foil District cameras. The law enacted last month makes it a primary offense to use "glass, plastic, or any other type of material or substance (i.e. spray) to cover a license plate." Meter maids can also issue plate cover tickets, but only for $50.

The rule was put in place to protect the steadily increasing stream of revenue that the District has made since installing cameras in 1999. So far, the city of 550,000 has made $105 million by issuing over 1.7 million red light camera and speed camera citations. District officials admit that although the law bans sprays designed to defeat the camera flash, police have no way of detecting it.

Nearby states have similar rules but smaller fines. Title 13-411 of the Maryland Code makes it a $55 offense if the plate is not kept "free from foreign materials." Title 46.2-716 of the Virginia Code makes it a $25 offense to violate the restriction on "colored glass, colored plastic, or any other type of covering" that alters or obscures any registration information.

Article Excerpt:
Janis Hazel, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Motor Vehicles, said police asked for the increased fines to "put some teeth" into restrictions on obstructing license plates....
"Too many people out there are getting objects that obstruct or distort their plates," said Lt. Byron Hope, head of the police department's traffic safety office.
Source: Obscuring license plates adds up to fines (Washington Times, 5/2/2005)

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