Woman receives ticket for tinted license plate cover

Woman receives ticket for tinted license plate cover

Posted:
"I think it's ridiculous. If it's against the law, the public should know about it," driver Lauren Burbage said. "I think it's ridiculous. If it's against the law, the public should know about it," driver Lauren Burbage said.
Lauren's husband bought the cover at Walmart for $0.88. Lauren's husband bought the cover at Walmart for $0.88.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - There's a saying in legal circles that says, "Ignorance of the law is not an excuse."

A woman from Union County received a ticket for violating a law she had never heard of. She had a tinted license plate cover.

A Luttrell woman was pulled over while driving in Knoxville for a speeding violation.

When the officer tacked on an additional violation, a rule she didn't know even existed, it was frustrating.

It was on I-640 in late October, that Lauren Burbage was stopped by Knoxville police.

"Apparently it's against the law and it's illegal to have them over your license plate," said Burbage. "I was stunned when he got me for this."

Stunned because Lauren didn't know the cover was illegal. It had been on her car for three years. Her husband bought and installed the cover and Burbage isn't even sure why.

"I think it's ridiculous. If it's against the law, the public should know about it," she said.

Rule 17-209, found in Knoxville's list of city ordinances, defines the law.

It's one of 120 different traffic rules, under Display of Registration Tag. The fine is $74.50.

The state has a similar law. Under Tennessee code annotated, it's Rule 55-110 B, plate display.

It reads, "No tinted materials may be placed over a licence plate."

Lauren's husband bought the cover at Walmart for $0.88. Similar covers are also sold at auto parts stores.

There is also a disclaimer warning the potential buyer that the covers are illegal in many states.

Darrell DeBusk of the Knoxville Police Department said the covers are a safety issue.

"You can't see the tag, especially at night. If the cover has a dark tint, it makes it very difficult for the officers to read that tag. It's a safety issue for them," DeBusk said.

Lauren later removed the tinted cover. She then went to traffic court where the fines were dropped and the judge charged only court costs.

"He said, 'Well, I see that you brought it with you. That means you took it off so that's a good thing'," she said.

Lauren has advice about the covers.

"If you have any type of cover over your license plate, take it off because it's not worth it," she said.

Remember, license plates are not supposed to be covered, even with a clear cover.

Another possible violation, some police will get you for not having a working tag light.

And, a few officers may get picky for having a temporary tag in your back window.  

According to the rules, it's supposed to go where your regular tag is displayed.


If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email ddare@wate.com.

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