Right now in New Jersey if the frame that surrounds the license plate on your car covers any part of any lettering on the plate it’s technically illegal and you can get a $100 ticket, even if the letters and numbers on the plate are still clearly visible.

The law, considered by many to be ridiculous, could change in the next few weeks.

Legislation, S2381, sponsored by Sen. Pat Diegnan, D-Middlesex, and released by the Senate Transportation Committee, would allow license plate frames that conceal parts of markings on the plate as long as it’s readable.

It's unreasonable

Diegnan pointed out many people have frames around their license plates and don’t even know they are violating the law because cars are sold by dealers with the frame already around the plate.

He said over the past five years, police have handed out more than 400,000 citations for illegal license plate frames which doesn’t make sense.

Don't blame cops

“Drivers get angry at them and it isn’t their fault, they’re enforcing the law, so let’s show the proper respect and take away dumb things like this,” said Diegnan.

He said at some point in the history of the Garden State this law must have made sense, but that’s not the case now.

“Plain and simple, the purpose of the bill is to clarify our police officers have more important things to do.”

Last August the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that it’s not a violation if the partially covered markings are still legible.

The legislation, and a measure in the Lower House sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, conforms the law to the court’s decision to eliminate any uncertainty. Committee amendments ensure temporary plates or certificates are covered by the bill.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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