Today’s blog looks at some equipment on your vehicle. In particular, why are there laws on how your license plate is positioned? Every state may have differences on how it is to be positioned, but what does it matter as long as an officer can read it legibly from the road?
For law enforcement and prosecutors, the policy is likely based around having a uniform method of knowing where on the vehicle to look. An officer in the field may not have time to try and scan everywhere on the vehicle to find a license plate if they need to have dispatch look up information immediately. Legilslators, I believe, want to encourage drivers in their state to have the license plate positioned in the same place on every vehicle in order to have officers in the field see it quickly. The Kansas statute regarding license plate positioning can be found at KSA 8-133.
For the defense, there is not a lot of room to argue. Most drivers do not have a valid reason why they could not position the license plate where the state requires them to unless they have a whole other equipment malfunction on their vehicle. One does wonder, however, in reading statutes similar to KSA 8-133, how precise must the positioning be? I believe that if the plate is in the required vicinity and it is legible, the defense could have an argument of general compliance. You would have to watch out for any strict liability language, however, which generally does not allow for certain defenses or excusable neglect.
Make sure you know where your license plate is to be positioned and make sure it is legible. After that, you should be fine. In the meantime, drive safely!