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Illegal Traffic Stops for Driving Without a Front License Plate

Our Santa Rosa DUI Attorney Ronald Dinan discusses illegal traffic stops for driving without a front license plate. According to the California Vehicle Code, a motor vehicle must carry the number of license plates it has been issued by the DMV. The DMV always issues two license plates for each vehicle, which means each vehicle is required to have two license plates; one on the front and one on the back.

For a variety of reasons, vehicles on the road may not have a front license plate. Generally, in our experience, police officers do not pull motorists over and cite them for not having a front plate, unless it is in the evening when they are looking for folks under the influence or possibly committing other crimes. Attorneys in Santa Rosa, Napa, Marin, Lakeport, Ukiah, and Eureka call this a “pretext" stop.

Although police do this for the purpose of discovering drivers under the influence or committing other crimes, they can legally stop a driver for this type of technical violation even though their true intent is to investigate other crimes. However, if a vehicle has a rear license plate from another state, police officers cannot pull that vehicle over if it does not have a front license plate unless the police actually know that a particular state requires both a front and a rear license plate.

Case Results

In a recent case, we had our clients' entire DUI case dismissed and thrown out of court because we were able to establish to the Court's satisfaction, that the police officer illegally pulled our client over. The police officer could clearly see from the rear license plate that the vehicle was registered in North Carolina, and the police officer had no idea as to whether North Carolina required one or two plates. Since North Carolina only requires one plate, all of the evidence acquired by the police after stopping our client was thrown out and the case was dismissed.

It is important to understand that qualified, experienced criminal defense attorneys will give you the very best chance of taking advantage of all available defenses. We invite you to contact us for a free consultation if you are serious about hiring an attorney with strong criminal expertise from one of our 6 offices in Santa Rosa, Napa, Marin, Lakeport, Ukiah, and Eureka.

Contact us at (888) 563-6268 today to schedule your consultation with our seasoned legal team.