Legal Defense Update: Somerset County, NJ, Motorist Pulled Over then Fined for Obscured License Plate

No matter how carefully an individual drives after having a drink or two, there is no guarantee that he or she won’t be stopped by a police officer and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. It takes just a moment and you could be pulled over for the simplest of motor vehicle violations. Once that happens, the officer could notice the smell of alcohol on your breath or some other telltale sign of intoxication.

As a New Jersey DWI defense attorney and former municipal prosecutor, I know the process through which a accused drunk driver must pass to possible conviction for drunken driving. Not only impairment by alcohol, but also prescription drug and marijuana use can land a motorist in police headquarters after an alleged DWI or DUI incident.

As Somerset drunken driving defense lawyers, my staff of highly capable attorneys has the skills and legal training to represent individuals facing possible drunk driving penalties here in the Garden State. That chain of events can begin with the most inconsequential item, like a burned-out headlight or cracked windshield. This is because police all around New Jersey are constantly observing drivers and their vehicles for violations.

Not long ago a Basking Ridge, NJ, driver was ticketed because his vehicle’s license plate was partially obscured, According to reports, although the man was not driving under the influence of alcohol, the incident illustrated how a driver could be stopped for this seemingly minor violation. The entire event occurred at a police checkpoint in Middlesex County, when police issued the man a ticket for a license plate frame that was apparently blocking part of the words on his New Jersey license plate.

According to news reports, the man was in his Toyota 4-Runner passing through a checkpoint on Main Street in Metuchen, NJ. A police officer observed that his inspection sticker was not properly affixed to the car’s windshield. But instead of issuing a ticket for the inspection sticker, patrolmen issued the man a ticket for his license plate frame, which officers alleged was covering some of the words on his New Jersey license plate.

As for the inspection sticker, there are no laws regarding the supposed straightness of vehicle inspection stickers, but police have become much more aware of potentially fraudulent stickers being used on cars and trucks. It’s obviously an invitation to be stopped by a New Jersey policeman.

When it comes to license plates, the law is quite clear. There is a New Jersey regulation that says no part of the wording on a license plate may be covered. Specifically, N.J.S.A 39:3-33 states, “No person shall drive a motor vehicle which has a license plate frame or identification marker holder that conceals or otherwise obscures any part of any marking imprinted upon the vehicle’s registration plate or any part of any insert which the director, as hereinafter provided, issues to be inserted in and attached to that registration plate or marker.”

For Basking Ridge man, partially obscured license plate results in $55 traffic ticket, NJ.com, September 27, 2010