You may not know the tinted licence plate cover that adorns your vehicle is illegal, but ignorance of the law is no excuse, even on something so seemingly insignificant.
Rob Robinson is just one of thousands that uses a cover, and he was as shocked as any when he was stopped by police one afternoon.
“I told him I wasn’t speeding and he said, ‘I know … we can’t see your plate,'” recalls Robinson.
“I was shocked because I’d had it on for a year … I thought it helps the licence plate, just so it doesn’t rust as much.”
Licence plate covers are indeed good for that, but although they might seem harmless any thing that obstructs your plate is against the law.
Police say it’s already tough enough to read a licence plate during a pursuit without the added obstruction of tint and/or colour.
“It does make a difference, especially at night,” said O.P.P. Constable Kent Taylor.
“When you consider the luminescent paint that’s used on licence plates, it’s a lot easier to see if there are absolutely no obstructions.”
The covers are widely sold, but despite warnings on the packages, getting caught with one on your vehicle will definitely earn you a fine.
“It boils down to a ticket, it’s in the range of about $100,” said Taylor.
At roughly $10 a pop, they may seem like a fun and inexpensive accessory, but just remember, the only ones that are legal are those that are clear, or merely frame the licence plate.
Here’s a sample of what IS allowed on a vehicle licence plate, courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation:
You may purchase a personalized plate for a passenger vehicle, commercial vehicle or motorcycle. Passenger and commercial plates may have two to eight characters. Motorcycles may have two to five characters.
Please note that personalized licence plates are not available for limited-speed motorcycles.
Any combination of letters and numbers may be reserved provided the following has not occurred:
- the combination of letters/numbers you selected has been issued, or
- your plate choice has been rejected.
Once reserved, your plate must still pass a review committee, which may reject the plate if it is considered to be objectionable, for example:
If a request is rejected, you may send a written appeal to:
Ministry of Transportation
P.O. Box 9800
Kingston, ON K7L 5N8
You may convert an existing plate to a personalized plate. New personalized plates must be manufactured and will be shipped to you.
You may also choose to add a graphic symbol to your unique personalized plate. (Graphics are not available on motorcycle plates, and seven and eight character personalized plates cannot include graphics.)
Here’s an opportunity to add some colour and flair to your vehicle licence plates. You can choose a graphic like the loon or trillium; or you can support your favorite Ontario professional sports team, community organization or university. There are more than 40 to choose from.
Sample plates are for display purposes only and cannot be legally attached to a vehicle. They are usually requested by plate collectors or as decorative items.
A sample plate may be ordered for a regular passenger plate or any of the available graphic symbols, with the exception of the Toronto Raptors. Only one plate is issued, and there is a limit of two sample plates of any one graphic per single order. It takes about four weeks for the applicant to receive the plate(s) in the mail.
For prices and other information, visit the Ministry site here.