Chances are, many drivers in North Carolina are breaking the law without even realizing it. Most drivers are either unaware or don’t understand the current law in North Carolina when it comes to regulating license plate frames and covers. If you were to take a moment and notice other cars that you pass every day, you will see many of them have some type of license plate frame or cover that either displays their favorite sports team or advertises the dealership from which the vehicle was purchased.
Under N.C. Gen. Stat. §20-63, “any operator of a motor vehicle who covers any registration plate with any frame or transparent, clear, or color-tinted cover that makes a number or letter included in the vehicle’s registration, the State name on the plate, or a number or month on the registration renewal sticker on the plate illegible commits an infraction and shall be penalized under G.S. 14-3.1.”
So, if your license plate frame covers any portion of the registration renewal stickers that are located in the top corners of your license plate, you are subject to being pulled over and cited for an infraction. In addition, displaying the popular tinted license plate cover gives officers the right to pull you over and cite you for an infraction if they believe that the tinted cover makes the plate number or State name illegible. N.C. Gen. Stat. §20-63 is very subjective and an officer’s opinion that a cover violates the statute will almost always be upheld as a reason to at least conduct a stop for further investigation. These “further investigations” often lead to more intrusive encounters with law enforcement, even going so far as to lead to a full scale search of a motorists person or vehicle.
The take away is that not all license plate frames and covers are illegal, but whether or not they are illegible could be subjective. The best policy is to just remove that license plate frame or cover and find another way to support your favorite team.