Got a ticket today for a clear license plate cover

While parked at a customer in St. Paul, MN this morning I received a ticket for having a “Plastic Cover on Front Plate” according to the ticket. Apparently this is in violation of Minnesota Statue 169.79.7 which says:

Subd. 7. Plate fastened and visible. All plates must be securely fastened so as to prevent them from swinging. The person driving the motor vehicle shall keep the plate legible and unobstructed and free from grease, dust, or other blurring material so that the lettering is plainly visible at all times. It is unlawful to cover any assigned letters and numbers or the name of the
state of origin of a license plate with any material whatever, including any clear or colorless material that affects the plate’s visibility or reflectivity.

I am hopeful that since my cover is completely clear and anti-reflective II will be able to get the ticket dismissed since the fine is $108! I will post again once I know if I am successful in my appeal.

It appears that Minnesota is the only state in the union with this law according to this site and that it went into affect in 1995. In light of that though if you have what you think is a completely clear cover in Minnesota you may still get a ticket according to this statute and the fine is pretty hefty.

29 Responses

  1. […] A couple of weeks ago I got a ticket for a clear license plate cover that I documented here. I went to court today with pictures of it on and off and the very nice hearing officer dismissed it […]

    • Do you know who your hearing officer was? He set a precedent and we hopefully will get the same hearing officer- as we got the same ticket today.

      • Don’t remember the lady’s name. However if you bring a picture of it removed you should be good to go.

  2. Please do post your results. I also received a citation along with my expired meter ticket. But my plastic covers are non-reflective and the tabs are clearly visible so I am hoping that the pictures I bring with me will allow dismissal of this fine….

  3. On Sept 5th, I received a ticket for a clear plastic cover on the back license plate. I have taken pictures of the car with and without the plate. I am bringing the clear plastic cover into court. The fine is $110.

  4. Got the same ticket 9/30. Also going to schedule a hearing, take pics and bring the covers in. Too many better things to spend $110 on.

  5. Same ticket today I’m also gonna take pictures and get non reflective colers and bring them in. Will keep u posted. The meter maid ticketed the whole block. Crazy!!!!

  6. Just received a ticket for the clear cover I have over my collector plates. Hopefully they will dismiss. I have had the plate cover on for 11 years with no issue. What a pain!

  7. I received a ticket for the same violation. I bought a clear cover from Big Lots 5-6 years ago. It was never intended nor does it obstruct, blur or hide the license number from view at any angle. The 7 years that I have lived in Minneapolis, this is the first instance that I get a ticket for this. I pass by countless police and not once did they bother to give me a ticket for this cover. Why? Because you can see the plate in plain view despite being covered with a clear cover.

  8. I got a ticket for parking too close to a stop sign. Okay, I took the risk when I parked and I’m willing to take responsibility for my actions. Under the first ticket was another for my clear license plate covers. I couldn’t believe it!!!!

    As others have posted, mine are clear and in no way block or blur any information on the plates. The reason I have the covers is to protect the integrity (and therefore the legibility) of the plates. I will be taking photos with the covers on and off and will bring the covers to my appeal.

  9. I got the same ticket while parked in front of my house today. In no way is the plate obstructed, my cover is clear and non-reflective. I will be fighting this ticket and will do what everyone suggests and take pictures with it both on and off. Thanks to everyone for posting the helpful information.

  10. I also got a $108 ticket for having clear license plate covers. I just moved here from Missouri where people are encouraged to put plate covers on to detract thieves from stealing tabs. Welcome to Minnesota, right? In no way do my non-reflective covers affect the visibility of my plates so I will be contesting my ticket as well and will be bringing pictures. Wish me luck.

  11. I just called Hennepin County to contest my citation for clear license plate covers. I can’t get in until February 1st, 2011 !!!!!!!!!

  12. Wow. I thought I was the only one they targeted. I got a ticket about a month ago for this. I was confused because the car was sold to me by Luther Honda this way 3 years ago and I’ve been pulled over a bevy of times for stupid things without anyone ever mentioning the covers. Not realizing that was actually my issue, about 2 days later, BAM, another ticket. So I go try to remove the covers and discover I don’t have the right wrench. Time is tight since I work two full-time jobs and I didn’t get to a tool store in time, because 2 days later, BAM, another one, and then once more yesterday, BAM. Pretty stupid since I don’t even drive this car and wouldn’t be parking it on the street if my landlord wasn’t such a PITA about using the driveway. So now I have to go contest ~$500 in tickets. Grr.

  13. Today I went to the Southdale District Court to appeal the two citations I received. The woman that listened to my case told me flat out that clear covers are against the law because they may cause reflections from a police spotlight when they pull you over (although this is not a rationale described in the statute). She offered to dismiss one citation if I paid for the other. She said I could take it to court if I wasn’t satisfied with her offer. I took my losses and paid for the one citation.

  14. Okay, here’s a good one for you. I got my ticket on Sunday, February 20, at 2:00 p.m. in the middle of a snowstorm. The plates on all of the vehicles on the street were covered with snow and ice from the weather but my car was the only one with a ticket. Since yesterday was a holiday, I’m calling today to schedule a hearing appointment downtown.

  15. Met with the hearing officer this week. I brought pictures (thanks for the tip!) and he dismissed the ticket.

    He also commented that he thought the statute was “a little lame” and was difficult to prove that a clear plastic license plate protector affects visibility.

    Good luck!

  16. I received the same ticket last night. I have had the clear cover on my car for over ten years. After the tabs were stolen of my old car the officer who took the report suggested that I get clear cover to protect my plates & tabs. It would keep them looking new longer making them easier to see & read. I have also been parked next to other officers and no one has ever said anything about them before. They are sold in every auto parts store. Guess it’s a nother way to generate revenue for MPLS.

  17. Hello,
    I am just wondering about the outcome of your appeal ?


  18. NA

  19. I can’t see that this law is anyone’s interest. I am writing the Minneapolis City Council president, Chamber of Commerce, and the Strib on this one. I moved back to MN a year ago and I am so disappointed at how car unfriendly MPLS is. I went to MPLS Public Library to volunteer and I have to pay $4 each time I volunteer. I received this ticket on 2nd Ave No just off Washington on a Monday. There were very few cars on any of the streets. No wonder.
    Thanks for the tips!

  20. I was ticketed today in front of my home for the clear plastic license cover. Normally I park in the garage but the day prior I was cleaning out the car which I can’t do in my narrow garage. We live on a critical parking street by a nursing home and have critical parking stickers. For that reason the traffic officers are on our block more frequently. Like the poster JoEllen above we moved here from Missouri. While living there, we had our stickers stolen off the plate which is why we use the cover and also I think it keeps the plate from getting bent up. We’re contesting this and I’ll definitely bring the picture and the plate cover. We have two small kids and I could definitely be using that $108 more wisely. The ticket amount seems wildly out of range for something so minor. I believe this is even more than than a ticket for not having the critical parking tag. The word extortion is what my husband used. He was cursing rather loudly because he was on his way to work and he mostly bikes. A couple of grannies across the street stopped in their tracks.

  21. Was the ticket dismissed because you complied by removing the plate cover or because you proved that the plate view was not obstructed by the cover.? What I mean is, did the hearing officer dismiss because there was no cviolation because no obstructed view OR dismissed because plate cover is no longer on plate (admitting violation and removing cause of violation)?

    • The ticket was dismissed because I removed the cover. Strangely the picture I showed them actually had the cover on it but I didn’t point that out.

  22. This just happened to me today, $108 ticket for having a clear license cover. I immediately took it off. I plan to go to court over this too, will bring my cover too. Will take picture of it off as well, hopefully I don’t have to pay this stupidly excessive charge.

    If anyone has updates to their situation, please post.

    • Hey all, update, fee was waived because I brought in the cover, and the hearing officer waived it as a maintenance fix, or whatever she called it. She basically said everyone gets one warning with this. Took less than a minute with her.

  23. Clear covers are not legal. If you bring them in to the hearing officer and explain that you misunderstood the statute you might get it dismissed.

    Here is the Mn court of appeals ruling. State V White

    If taking time off work to do this is an issue you could send a letter to the attention of the hearing officer showing you taking them off the car and explaining you thought they were legal, it worked for me – i called a week later and the ticket had been dismissed.

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