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What constitutes an unlawful frame on a license plate?

Miami, FL |

A Miami Beach police officer ticketed my properly parked car because "license plate state covered by frame." He cited 08/316.605.1, "unlawful object/decals on license plate." I have a dealership-issued frame. The license plate number and registration decal are entirely and clearly visible from a reasonable distance, as are the state map and a state logo featuring oranges. Because of the plate's design, the letters in MYFLORIDA.COM are partially obscured by the frame, and the phrase SUNSHINE STATE is partially obscured by the frame. It is still very clearly a Florida plate. This seems like a frivolous citation. Would I be right to challenge it in court?

Attorney Answers 3


You can challenge it, but its not a matter of right or wrong: It is a matter of cost efficiency.

If the plate is obscured, by a dealer issued frame or otherwise, then it is in technical violation of the statute and you were properly cited. Conversely, if "the plate number and registration decal are entirely and clearly visible from a reasonable distance, as are the state map and a state logo featuring oranges" then you have a good factual argument to make in court.

Either way, it is a parking ticket (probably of the +/- $40 variety), it carries no points and fighting the ticket will require a not so insignificant investment in regard to time, effort and energy. In addition you will run the risk of having to pay significantly more should the Hearing Officer (Judge's do not preside over parking matters in Miami-Dade County) side with the statute instead of with you.

If it is a matter of principal then that is your judgment call but if it were me I'd pay it. Parking alone in downtown Miami to attend your ticket (22 West Flagler Street) will cost you about 1/2 the amount of the inside of 30 day fine.

Either way I hope that this has been helpful and wish you god luck (especially if this is you Doc.....).

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I would recommend that you talk to an attorney who can argue the facts of the case to the court and who can make an argument in your defense. If you challenge the citation, both parties will have to be present and the officer will have to explain why he had probable cause to give the citation. If you have valid defenses, the court may dismiss the case. If the court finds that the dealership frame obstructs the tag, then the citation will most likely be found to be valid, regardless of whether the license plate can be seen from a reasonable distance.

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These license plate laws have been enacted and retracted in many states. Texas is one such state. If you can still tell that the State is the State of Florida this statute was enacted for one reason alone and that was to create probable cause to perform traffic violations.

With the right lawyer you may be able to argue the constitutionality of the law.


Erick Platten

Platten Law Office

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