License Plate Coverings Ban, Arizona Signs New Legislation

By Nethani Palmani | Apr 04, 2017 09:24 AM EDT

The current law allows drivers to use clear or tinted covers as well as sprays to obscure the plate. These license plate coverings and sprays often make it difficult for law enforcement to see all the markings they need to. (Photo : Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

Gov. Doug Ducey signed a legislation that bars license plate coverings, "that obscures from any angle the number, characters, year validating tabs or name of the jurisdiction issuing the plate.'' The legislation, signed on Tuesday in Arizona, will likely take effect 90 days after the end of the session.

The issue has been debated for more than a decade over the issue of photo radar. Many sought to keep the license plate coverings legal to defeat the cameras, as the coverings are deliberately designed to keep the plates of offending vehicles from being vividly photographed.

"The problem is that these things don't just hide the photo radar flashes. They hide low-angle sun as well,'' state senator Steve Farley said, according to Arizona Daily Sun. Prior efforts by other lawmakers failed in 2004, 2008 and 2010.

Farley also revealed his concerns that motivated the legislation, stating that bad guys will get away because police officers and witnesses to crimes won't be able to identify a certain vehicle due to the license plate coverings. He noted that SB 1073 has the backing of several different organizations of police officers, and that this has nothing to do with whether cameras can catch speeders and those who run red lights.

"If we're going to require license plates at all in order to identify the cars to law enforcement and witnesses at crimes, we should make sure they're not obscured,'' Farley said. He said that the license plate coverings would, otherwise, give an unfair advantage to criminals, according to 12News.

The legislation was a huge surprise for some lawmakers because the language clearly deals with situations where the plate is not seen from any angle. The ban on license plate coverings puts a question on its visibility that now solely depends on from where it is being viewed.

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