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Would the police ticket?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Would the police ticket?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
February 14, 2012

Hyundai Santa Fe with New Mexico License Plate

As I sat in a line of traffic on Bull Valley Road yesterday afternoon, I got to wondering just where the driver in front of me was from?

The plate obviously needs replacement, as do many licenses plates in Illinois. This one, though, was issued by the State of New Mexico, according to the barely-readable bottom line on the plate, "New Mexico USA".

New Mexico apparently had to add USA to its plates, because so many people thought New Mexico was south of the border.

Would an alert police officer, deputy or trooper stop this vehicle and examine the registration papers? Is the "SEP" sticker for 2011 or 2012? Can't tell, because the license plate frame obscures it.

It would be a good car for a bank robber; right? Just imagine the questions from the cops about the license plate.

The purpose of a license plate is to identify a vehicle. Letters and numbers should be clear, and the bracket should not obscure them, the state of issue or the renewal tag. In my opinion, letters and numbers should be against a plain background. Illinois legislators don't agree; you've noticed the proliferation of specialty plates. The same number can even be issued on different classes of vehicles. Maybe even on different specialty plates. Dumb...

I lived in New Mexico in 1989 and in 1991 and, as I recall, it is a single-plate state. The vehicle pictured above did not have a front plate. Illinois is a two-plate state, and both plates are required to be mounted. An alert cop will stop a vehicle with no front plate; it's a legal traffic stop. They often find problems that way, such as unlicensed drivers, drivers with suspended licenses and wanted persons.

Too many owners are allowed to "skate" on this requirement, when they skip mounting the front plate because it doesn't look "nice" on the front of their Beemer or Corvette or (fill in the blank). If a cop wants to give such a driver a break, he should at least issue a Warning with a 5-day compliance requirement and then check the vehicle for compliance.

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