Senate votes to outlaw obscuring license plates - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

Senate votes to outlaw obscuring license plates

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Posted: Friday, February 26, 2010 5:22 pm | Updated: 3:55 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The state Senate has agreed to make it illegal to put anything on a license plate that obscures the letters and numbers from being read at any angle.

Attention, speeders: Your days of being able to escape photo radar might be limited.

On a 17-4 vote, the state Senate has agreed to make it illegal to put anything on a license plate that obscures the letters and numbers from being read at any angle. The language, crafted by Sen. Ken Cheuvront, D-Phoenix, spells out that this means not just the ability of passing police officers to read the plates, but also photo radar cameras.

Cheuvront is specifically targeting the plastic covers sold with the specific goal of making license plates essentially invisible to cameras.

For example, a company known as Radar Busters markets what it calls its "photo blur license plate shield."

"The photo blur is simple yet effective in hiding your license plate numbers from any angle," the company's description on its Web site reads. "Perfectly readable from straight on. Particularly effective for red light cameras."

And if there's any doubt to whom it's being marketed, its Web site has a demonstration using an Arizona license plate.

"With everything that's happening in this state, from Amber Alerts to police officers having to swerve to see the license plate, it is about safety and it is about following the law," Cheuvront said.

Sen. Linda Gray, R-Glendale, said more than photo radar is at issue.

She pointed out that the Department of Public Safety and some police departments have installed photo scanners on the bumpers of their vehicles. These scanners "read" the license plates of passing vehicles, compare the plates to a list of stolen vehicles and sound an alarm if there's a match.

That technology, Gray said, has made it easier for police to find stolen cars. "If you want to keep our theft down, we should outlaw covering the plate up," she said.

And Sen. Rebecca Rios, D-Apache Junction, said there's "no valid reason" anyone would buy or install one of these items "unless they're trying to skirt the law."

The provision was attached to legislation making other changes in photo enforcement laws. It needs a final Senate vote before going to the House.

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