Where should you display your plates?

While patrolling, I observe license plates in some of the oddest locations.

Most vehicles will have the license plate in the proper location. Others, if it falls off the vehicle, may have it in the back window until it is fixed.

I have observed license plates in the side window of the vehicle if the rear window is tinted.

However, the plates I am referring to that typically have odd locations are trailers.

Many manufactured trailers have a license plate mounting bracket that is low to the ground and can potentially be lost or broken. In an attempt to avoid losing a license plate, the owners of the trailers will mount the plate on the wheel fender in a permanent manner.

The issue with that placement is the license plate is not always visible or legible from the rear for law enforcement officers.

MCL 257.225 discusses registration plate, attachment to vehicle, and legibility.

Under that statute, within Section 1, it states: “… a registration plate issued for a vehicle shall be attached to the rear of the vehicle.” Section 2 states: “A registration plate shall at all times be securely fastened in a horizontal position to the vehicle … The plate shall be attached at a height of not less than 12 inches from the ground, measured from the bottom of the plate, in a place and position that is clearly visible. The plate shall be maintained free from foreign materials that obscure or partially obscure the registration information and in a clearly legible condition.”

A license plate for a personal vehicle needs to be affixed to the rear-most portion of the vehicle that is visible to an officer or other motorist.

A plate should either be mounted in the proper place for a license plate or, if that is not possible, the rear window of the vehicle would be the next-best choice.

As for a trailer, the key to mounting the plate is that the plate remains horizontal. Mounting it on a wheel well to the trailer is a great option, but usually the owner then turns the plate vertically, which is a violation of the relevant statute.

Section 4 states: “A person shall not attach a name plate, insignia, or advertising device to a registration plate in a manner that obscures or partially obscures the registration information.”

Some of the license plate frames block pertinent information, such as expiration or even the state the vehicle is registered in.

If you have a license plate frame on your vehicle and there is information that is covered, it would be a violation of statute.

A person who violates the statute is responsible for a civil infraction and a possible fines and costs at the court of approximately $100.

Ashley Simpson is the community service trooper for the Michigan State Police-Alpena Post. If you have a question for Trooper Simpson, you can email her at asktroopersimpson@gmail.com or mail them to Ask A Trooper, Michigan State Police-Alpena Post, 3283 W. Washington Ave., Alpena, Michigan, 49707.