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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Buses

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 16, 2007


There are three common vehicle violations that, in my mind, are closely related to major moving traffic violations:

1. Failure to display front license plates,
2. Heavily-tinted plastic covers over front and rear license plates, and
3. Darkened front side windows, even windshields.

Many will say that it would be a really petty ticket, if a police officer stopped a driver for No Front License Plate and wrote him a ticket. Same with the others.

However, my experience in driving at the legal posted speed limit is that many of the drivers who tear down the road, tailgate me, pass me on the left closely (without fully leaving my lane), and who pass me on the right shoulder and by using exit and entrance lanes on expressways and the Tollway as passing lanes, are drivers whose cars are in such violations.

If a driver is tailgating me (say, about 5’-6’ behind me at 55MPH), I can easily read his front license plate, if it’s there. Of course, if it’s not, I can’t.

Illinois is a two-plate state. License plates are to be displayed on the front and rear of passenger cars. Many drivers of foreign cars don’t display front license plates. Many Corvettes, BMWs, Mazdas, and sports cars do not have front license plates. Gee, it upsets the styling…. Well, too bad. Illinois law does NOT say that you must display two license plates, unless you drive a Corvette!

If a driver passes me recklessly or dangerously close, I can sic the cops on him, but I need to be able to identify him. If the front side windows are heavily (and illegally) darkened, I can’t see the driver. Unless I can get a cop to stop him while he is still in my sight, I am wasting my time reporting him to the police.

And if he has a heavily-tinted plastic lens over the rear license plate, I may not be able to read the plate as he passes me.

It was interesting to hear remarks by the Illinois State Police Sector Commander for three dangerous roadways in northern Chicagoland. When I asked about the correlation between speeders and reckless drivers and the cars with these violations, he said he didn’t know of a study about such a relationship. But he did say that front plates, unobscured license plates, and clear front side windows and windshield are essential to the use of the PhotoRadar van in the construction zones. The photograph needs to show the plates and the driver’s face.

A speeder through a Construction Zone might not end up with only a speeding ticket. If a plate is missing or obscured, he might be ticketed for that, too. Just a little sweetener, don’t you know? (My words.)

Last year I asked a Woodstock police officer to ticket a driver who passed me illegally on U.S. 14 east of the hospital and to ticket him for no front license plate. The officer failed to issue the ticket for the license plate violation. We lost in court because the driver and his passenger lied to the judge, and we didn’t even get him on the front plate violation because the cop failed to write that ticket, even though I requested it orally and in writing. Sometimes you have to take what you can get, and we didn’t even get that one.

Do the police around here write tickets for license plate violations and darkened windows? Not very often.



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