If your license plate is framed, you’re probably breaking Florida law

License plate frames such as this one are illegal to have on your plates under Florida law.
License plate frames such as this one are illegal to have on your plates under Florida law. Creative Commons

License plate frames in Florida are fairly common, but if you have one you might want to go take it off.

That’s the advice from Alvaro Alves, who only escaped a ticket on his frame because he fought it in court and a judge relented since he had already removed the frame.

Alves was pulled over by an officer earlier this year because one of his lights wasn’t working, according to NBC Miami. He happened to have a spare bulb and said he would fix it on the spot, but the officer gave him a ticket for something else – his license plate frame.

“You have this frame. This is illegal in Florida,” Alves told NBC Miami the officer said at the time. Alves said when he pointed out the tag number and registration decal were fully viewable, the officer told him it didn’t matter.

“He couldn’t see the ‘MyFlorida.com’ and the ‘Sunshine State’ wording,” Alves said.

And while some might be critical of the officer for nitpicking, he’s right. Florida law bans the obstruction of any part of the license plate.

“A person may not apply or attach a substance, reflective matter, illuminated device, spray, coating, covering, or other material onto or around any license plate which interferes with the legibility, angular visibility, or detectability of any feature or detail on the license plate or interferes with the ability to record any feature or detail on the license plate,” the law states.

Alves is far from the only one to get burned for being ignorant of this particular law, though at least he didn’t have to pay the actual fine. Alex Carpenter told Fort Myers NBC 2 that she was fined $114 because her license plate frame covered MyFlorida.com.

“I would say if you asked 10 people, nine are going to say I had no clue this even exists,” Carpenter said of the law.

It’s a law that’s rarely enforced, according to ABC 10 News. There were 59 tickets for that offense written in Miami-Dade County in 2013. All police agencies statewide wrote a little more than 2,200 tickets for license plate frames in the same year.

“It’s not something that people know,” Miami Police spokesperson Kenia Fallat told NBC Miami. “But if it’s a small frame and it doesn’t cover anything on the tag then it’s OK.”