04 August 2010

More DC license plate obscuring?

Is blotting out parts of DC license plates a growing trend?

Last week, Mike Grass of the Washington City Paper wrote about a BMW on Capitol Hill which had a frame with a provocative anti-DC message that covered up part of its DC license plate.

Mike cited city code which states that license plates "shall be maintained free from foreign materials and in clearly legible condition." He followed with an update from the city which clarified that frames that cover part of the plate are indeed illegal.

I saw this car in the Suitland Metro parking garage, and it has black electrical tape placed over the DC flag on the plate (as well as over a "thin blue line" emblem and a shield styled after the Maryland state flag).

What could someone have against these three symbols? Looks like it was an old police cruiser that has been sold to a civilian.

What we do know is this is not legal. Better watch it when on the road.


  1. May not be legal, but you see this sort of thing *EVERYWHERE*, regardless of state.

    On a related note, the clear (or sometimes tinted) plastic plates that people put on top of their license plates for the obvious reason of trying to avoid getting their plate photographed at a speed/red-light camera...are those legal?

  2. Froggie: I would wager that they are not legal, since that would not leave the plate "free from foreign materials."

  3. Being anti-statehood is not necessarily being anti-DC.

  4. isn't that typically done when in mourning the loss of a policeman? Black tape is put across plate and the side emblem. Maybe it's just left over?

  5. Anonymous: Is that true? I hadn't heard of that, but it sounds like a plausible action (like a black armband. Could you find a story about this and link to it?

  6. Police generally put a black diagonal tape over their badges when mourning a colleague that died in the line of duty. My first reaction to the photo was that this is (or was) a police cruiser and the markings were for a fallen officer. If you saw this in the Suitland Metro garage, it could very well be a Metro police officer's car.
    Yahoo! Answers addresses it.

  7. I do know that officers put a black band around their badges to symbolize mourning a fallen officer.

    And I think the BMW license plate cover was illegal only because the top part of it obscured "Washington, DC." Doubt that black tape is illegal because it doesn't cover any crucial identifying information. Likewise, covering "Taxation without Representation" isn't illegal.


You can be curmudgeonly too, but let's try to be civil and constructive here, ok?