With plates, the cover-up is the crime - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

With plates, the cover-up is the crime

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Posted: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 12:00 am | Updated: 1:25 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

If the last time you took a glance at the license plate on the back of your car was when you updated your registration sticker, you might want to look again — soon.

A law passed by state legislators in 2006, its implementation delayed till 2009, prohibits motorists from covering the word “Arizona” on their license plate.

A violation is punishable by an average fine of $135.

Many local residents — either aware or unaware of the law — still had the word “Arizona” obstructed on their plates and were out driving on the last day of the year.

Steven Hanson had his “Arizona” covered with a Precision Toyota frame.

But he thought the law would help police identify possible suspects of crimes.

“I think it’s a good idea, Hansen said, “so you can see if someone drives off.”

Local police hope, now that there are so many different types of license plates, that keeping “Arizona” visible will help victims identify possible suspects more easily.

The new law aims to also aid with retrieval of proper information when officers call in a license plate.

The violation is not considered a moving violation, however, so points will not be added to a person’s driver’s record.

People like Bill Mayhall have found ways around the new law, which states, “a person shall maintain each license plate so it is clearly legible and so that the name of this state at the top of the license plate is not obscured.”

Mayhall took a hacksaw to the portion of the license plate that obstructed “Arizona.”

“I thought it’s sort of silly,” Mayhall said. “I understand most of them have a saguaro on the license plate and that should be easy to figure out. And our license plate cover said ‘Oracle Arizona’ on it, the part I had to saw off. So you can probably figure out where we’re from with the cactus and the ‘Arizona’ written out.”

Mayhall also expressed that it might be easier for the Tucson Police Department to better identify cars caught on the red light cameras.

The department, however, is not currently using the cameras to enforce the new license plate law, according to Tucson Police Officer Chuck Rydzak.

Oro Valley Police spokeswoman Liz Wright said the department is using the new law as an educational campaign. She said officers were not currently pulling people over for the violation, but were informing them of the new law if they pulled drivers over for other infractions.

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