At least that is what the state claims. N.J.S. 39:3-33 says a motorist can’t “display unclear or indistinct plates.” Neither the front nor rear plates can have these frames.
N.J.S. 39:3-33 by itself is really a minor offense. If convicted you’re looking at $56 fine and $33 court costs. It is the subsequent offenses once the officer pulls you over which become a problem.
So if it is a minor offense, why should I worry?
It isn’t the offense itself that is the problem. The problem is once the officers have a valid stop, they then may discover a host of other issues. Personally, I think what officers do is a pre-text. A license plate frame in no way causes the plate to be “unclear or indistinct.” The problem is, once the officer has pulled you over then what they find in plain view is fair game. I routinely see driving without a license, N.J.S. 39:3-10, driving with suspended license, N.J.S. 39:3-40, driving with no insurance, N.J.S. 39:6B-2, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, N.J.S. 39:4-50, or possession of a controlled dangerous substance, N.J.S. 2C:35-10a. Each of which are justified based on the license plate frame. This pretext is used as a gateway to more serious charges.
So do yourself a favor. Get a screw driver and remove the license plate frames. You may save yourself a lot more than the $89 fine.
What Can I Do?
If you live out of New Jersey and received a ticket in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, you can download our free “Why Pleading Guilty to your New Jersey Traffic Ticket is NOT an option by clicking on the title,” you speak to our knowledgeable staff at 888-695-6169, or you contact me through this site.