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New Jersey Court: Motorcycle License Plates Cannot Be Mounted Upside Down
New Jersey appellate court strikes down attempt by motorcyclist to be different by mounting his license plate upside down.

Upside down license plate
Because of space limitations, some motorcyclists will get creative when mounting the license plate to the back of their ride. Earlier this month the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division made clear that installing the plate upside down was in no way acceptable. A two-judge panel rejected the arguments that Scott DiRoma presented while arguing in his own defense against a $139 ticket.

On June 22, 2018, DiRoma was riding on Mount Bethel Road in Warren Township when he passed through a speed trap. A local police officer decided to pull DiRoma over so that he could write up a citation for the plate violation. DiRoma explained to the officer that he "wanted to be different" and that he thought it looked "cool" to set up his plate that way. State law does specify that automobile plates, called an identification mark, are to be mounted in a horizontal position. The section treats motorcycles separately.

"Motorcycles shall also display an identification mark," New Jersey Statutes Section 39:3-33 states. "All identification marks shall be kept clear and distinct and free from grease, dust or other blurring matter, so as to be plainly visible at all times of the day and night."

DiRoma insisted that the wording of the statute is different for motorcycles and automobiles and that the law was unconstitutionally vague because it does not spell out any particular required orientation for two-wheeled vehicles. None of the lower court judges bought this argument. The appellate panel also rejected the attempt.

"Contrary to defendant's argument, he was not found in violation of the provision of the statute regarding horizontal placement of his license plate," Judges Joseph L. Yannotti and Lisa A. Firko ruled. "Rather, he was found guilty of failing to comply with the requirement that the plate be clear and distinct... The upside down mounting of a license plate causes the reader to view characters in reverse order, which would lead to confusion, doubt, and mistake. Moreover, an upside down license plate clearly impedes law enforcement's ability to perform its duties."

A copy of the unpublished ruling is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File New Jersey v. DiRoma (New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, 1/28/2020)

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