Allowing your number plate to get dirty or actively obscuring or altering it could cost you a hefty fine, demerit points and maybe even jail!
A 50-year-old Irish rider recently copped a £600 (about $A1140) fine and nine demerit points for trying to evade detection by police by altering his Honda’s number plate with black tape.
His solicitor said the bike had been off the road for a year and he was on his way to the garage to get an MOT (Ministry of Transport roadworthy).
In Australia, fines for an obscured plate vary substantially state to state up to $2518 in NSW ($3000 if dealt with in court) and up to three demerit points.
The offence can be worded as something like “using a vehicle with an altered, incorrect or misrepresented number plate”.
That can include a number of issues such as simply allowing your number plate to get dirty.
Telling the cop who pulls you over that you had no idea it got dirty is not an excuse as you are obliged every time you use a vehicle to ensure it is in legal, working order.
However, it can get worse.
If the plate has been fraudulently altered (as in the mock photo at the top of this article), the penalty is up to $1000 or two months’ jail.
The tougher penalties are due to the use of stolen and fraudulent plates to commit crimes, not just evade speed cameras.
I knew one flexible rider who used to stand up and extend his right foot back to obscure his plate as he passed a roadside speed camera.
Another rider had his plate on a rotating mechanism which he could activate via a switch on the handlebars to rotate the plate out of sight.
Both could have been fined for fraudulently obscuring their plate and face the harsher penalties.
There are also various clear plate covers that are claimed to prevent a speed camera from getting a clear image.
Some “invisible” sprays (including hairspray) are also claimed to legally obscure your plate from a speed camera.
Most of these only claim to “help avoid detection”. They offer no guarantees.
Not only do these scam products not work with modern no-flash speed camera technology, but you can be fined for fraudulently obscuring your plate.
You may think police won’t notice, but they are aware of these scams.
If they pull you over, even for a licence check, one of the first things they check is for these devices and sprays which leave a telltale gummy residue.
Police in several states couldn’t give us exact numbers for motorcycle plate fines, but they claim it is common.