Arizona License Plate Law Protects Photo Ticket Revenue

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper

An Arizona state Senate committee voted 4-2 on Tuesday to continue, for now, the practice of allowing police to pull over and fine motorists who use certain types of license plate frames. State Senators Jay Tibshraeny (R-Chandler) and Thayer Verschoor (R-Gilbert) had unsuccessfully introduced legislation to gut a state law that took effect in January. “A person shall maintain each license plate so it is clearly legible and so that the name of this state at the top of the license plate is not obscured,” Arizona Code Section 28-2354 states. Although the distinctive colors and cactus designs of Arizona’s basic plates are readily identifiable to the human eye, visibility of the state name is important for the optical character recognition software used by photo enforcement companies.

Motorists run afoul of this law if even a tiny portion of the word “Arizona” is covered by a frame and are subject to being stopped and searched and a $200 ticket imposed. Tibshraeny and Verschoor had sought to eliminate the practice and give police only the power to issue warnings. The Senate Natural Resources, Infrastructure and Public Debt Committee, however, insisted on collecting fine revenue.

In Texas, a similar license plate law became controversial when cities like Houston planned to raise $1.4 million in revenue with license plate citations. The Texas legislature eventually reduced the penalty to $10.

In Arizona’s lower chamber, a competing license plate reform proposal, House Bill 2010, was given preliminary approval earlier this year. The bill’s sponsor, state Representative Bill Konopnicki (R-Safford), sought to eliminate the language about partially covering up the state’s name, which he saw as the heart of the legislative problem.

“I’m not sure that there should be any fine,” Konopnicki said in February.

Konopnicki was concerned that the statute as written would be misused to create probable cause for searches that would not otherwise exist. He claimed that he had received 4000 emails in support of his legislation, but the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee could not give up on the idea of imposing a fine. It rewrote Konopnicki’s bill to make covering up any portion of the state name a secondary offense carrying a $30 fine.

Such fines could be easily added to a photo radar or red light camera ticket under a “secondary violations” clause in the photo enforcement contract for cities like Phoenix. The amended proposal would still have to clear both the full House and Senate before being sent to the governor

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  • Vento97 Vento97 on Jun 13, 2009
    If not I recommend Arizona citizens as a Republican state exercise their 2nd amendment rights. I hope you realize that you would be whacking a lot of your fellow republicans: An Arizona state Senate [which is 60% R, 40% D] a.k.a. GOP-on-GOP violence....
  • JohnHowardOxley JohnHowardOxley on Jun 14, 2009

    Interesting take on free advertising -- I don't mind having my car badged by the maker -- it is why I bought it after all, but it has always been my habit to remove any sticker, decal, plate, or other geegaw advertising the dealer. I actually prefer the dealer use a licence plate holder to advertise -- they are a lot easier to remove! If, on the other hand, a dealer had sufficient smarts to say to me: "I know if you wear the dealer insignia, you are giving me valuable advertising, so here's a crisp $50 bill." then I would have no problem with it.

  • Vulpine My first pickup truck was a Mitsubishi Sport... able to out-accelerate the French Fuego turbo by Renault at the time. I really liked the brand back then because they built a model for every type of driver, including the rather famous 300/3000GT AWD sports car (a car I really wanted, but couldn't afford.)
  • Vulpine A sedan version of either car makes it no longer that car. We've already seen this with the Mustang Mach-E and almost nobody acknowledges it as a Mustang.
  • Vulpine Not just Chevy, but GM has been shooting itself in the foot for the last three decades. They've already had to be rescued once in that period, and if they keep going as they are, they will need another rescue... assuming the US govt. will willing to lose more money on them.
  • W Conrad Sedans have been fine for me, but I were getting a new car, it would be an SUV. Not only because less sedans available, but I can't see around them in my sedan!
  • Slavuta More hatchbacks