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Old 02-18-2013, 11:23 AM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,540 posts, read 12,562,503 times
Reputation: 2952

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Montana Supreme Court OKs Stops For Snow On License Plate

Police can stop and ticket motorists with a bit of snow on their license plate, according to a ruling Tuesday by the Montana Supreme Court. Mark Andrew Haldane had been stopped at a red light in his brand new SUV on 23rd Street in Bozeman on a chilly, sub-zero evening on January 12, 2011. Officer Hal Richardson was showing a trainee, Lindsay Shephard, the ropes, so when Haldane passed Officer Richardson decided to pull over Haldane's black Ford Explorer because its temporary license plate was obstructed by snow and a trailer hitch. The hitch alone was not a cause for the stop, as Officer Shephard testified she could not read the numbers when combined with the accumulated snow. [article continues]
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Old 02-18-2013, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Spots Wyoming
18,696 posts, read 36,340,197 times
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I wonder if the State is going to authorize "Non-Emergency" stops on the shoulder of the highway, so you can periodically stop to clean your license plates? Are the Law Enforcement agency's also required to stop and clean theirs? Will the snowplows be making stops to clean theirs?

Once again, I don't think the Courts thought this one through.
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Old 02-18-2013, 01:54 PM
 
18,856 posts, read 31,583,579 times
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Great. My license plate has been "blacked out" for months with accumulation of snow, dirt, slush from driving on the roads around here...will there be mandatory "car washing" statutes?
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Old 02-18-2013, 03:51 PM
 
Location: A Very Naughtytown In Northwestern Montanifornia U.S.A.
1,088 posts, read 1,589,965 times
Reputation: 1974
There comes a time in ones life when a guy gets behind on the registration. There have been times when I ran my rig through a muddy patch just to muck up the back of the rig so the plate numbers and the tag was pretty well covered.

Now will that law cover mud as well as snow ? I would expect so.
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:21 PM
 
629 posts, read 1,438,028 times
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I grew up in Michigan and while I don't know if there's an actual law I was always told that you could be pulled over if your plate was obstructed by snow so I learned to keep it clean.

If the snow is fresh and blowing around I can't imagine anyone getting a ticket for that, unless the police are looking for some reason to pull a particular vehicle over. Like the situation DontLookPhoto mentioned, I knew plenty of people who would pile snow over their plates so they couldn't be seen. Again, I'd be shocked if you get pulled over in the middle of a snowstorm, but once the roads are free of the loose stuff it's not that hard to take 5 seconds and run your glove over the plate or brush it off with the scraper. Most states are pretty straightforward that license plates need to be clearly displayed so I really don't see this as some huge deal.
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Old 02-19-2013, 09:21 AM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,540 posts, read 12,562,503 times
Reputation: 2952
Well, the roads might be clear but you're halfway between Billings and Lewistown on a crappy two-lane road; where you gonna pull over and clear your plates?

I think, as Elk says, the court didn't think this through; there are too many times when nature will obscure those plates and it's hardly worthwhile, nor particularly safe, to stop and clean them off. Hell, just having a cop pass you and splatter you with slush could do it. NOW what?

The problem really is that we have too many cops relative to the amount of crime. Crime has dropped to just a third of what it was 30 years ago, yet we have more cops today than ever. So they look for ways to justify their jobs.
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:07 AM
 
Location: Bitterroot Valley, Montana
82 posts, read 160,698 times
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When living in WA, I recall our neighbor being cited for dirt/salt/scum obscuring the rear plate. Prior to that, I'd never given it much consideration.

Perhaps automatic plate-wipers?
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:24 PM
 
5,239 posts, read 6,736,353 times
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It's a good excuse to stop someone, run them and see if they have warrants, and so on. In this case they had a DUI as well as a snowy license tag. When they stop the mayor or some rich guy possibly the outcome will be different in regards to the snowy license plate infraction. Its hardly realistic when its snowy, windy or just messy out to know for sure if the plate is clear. The court OK'd the stop cuz it turned out to be a DUI. Now watch someone come out with a wiper to keep plates clear.

They love to stop people with paper tags. This was in Nebraska, I'd just bought the car, the vehicle had a rear tinted window, they claimed they could not see the tag. Funny I could stand back and read it clearly from some distance away. I was polite and my tag was valid and that was it. But it did irritate me as it was clear that was simply an excuse to check me out.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:38 PM
 
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,540 posts, read 12,562,503 times
Reputation: 2952
Exactly -- and that's been the debate in the courts, to what extent are these stops just fishing expeditions?

Used to be that was no excuse, and any "evidence" collected was invalidated by the unwarranted stop. Not anymore.
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