Not a Clarity but maybe you can advise

Discussion in 'General' started by KClark, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. KClark

    KClark Active Member

    We have a 2001 Civic that my recent HS grad daughter drives a few miles to school and back. When she leaves for college in a few months we're getting rid of it.

    My daughter in law drove it on a short errand yesterday at about 2 in the afternoon in bright sunlight. She was pulled over by our local PD a few blocks from our home. The officer told her that we had deliberately stripped the reflective coating off our license plate to avoid detection at night and gave her a ticket. It isn't a fine but it is a notice to appear in court anytime between now and Sept 13.

    This is in Los Angeles County, specifically the city of Glendale. No one has intentionally stripped the coating off the plate, it's 18 years old and the coating has peeled away. I have a 17 year old F150 that is showing the same thing.

    Has anyone out there ever experienced this or heard about this? What can we expect to happen at court? Does the state of CA owe us a new plate with good reflective coatings? Do we have to buy a new one? Doesn't the PD have better things to do? Isn't there a better way to handle this without a court appearance?
  2. RataTejas

    RataTejas New Member

    I'm sure google is your friend, but I would take the weathered plate to court. Also check CA traffic laws regarding worn/unreadable plates, as I'd wager that it's your responsibility to have it replaced, but likely at zero cost. If that's the case, you may just have to suck up the fine. And yes, the PO is a guy looking for something to do on a boring night, or trying to woo a pretty girl.
    Skynosaur likes this.
  3. KClark

    KClark Active Member

    I am planning to take the plate and to take a photo at night with light reflecting off it. Like I said, this happened at 2 in the afternoon. If it had been at night and the plate was visibly non-reflective to the officer I could understand them maybe pulling the car over. But in daytime bright sunlight this seems really petty.
  4. graure

    graure Member

    They probably have those automatic license plate readers and her plate looked weird to the camera and automatically threw some kind of alert to the officer. If the officer believes that you intentionally stripped the coating, it's something like a $1000 bail fee. You'll need to pay the $20 to the DMV to get a set of replacement plates and do a trial by written declaration with pictures to show that you've corrected the issue. The bail is too high for you to dick around with night time pictures or trying to argue something and chance losing your case. You should probably proactively do this for your F150 as well if your local PD is already busting people for this kind of license plate.
  5. KClark

    KClark Active Member

    Could you explain that? The ticket says she has to appear in court, nothing else. What do you mean "dick around?" Does presenting evidence constitute "dicking?" Is presenting evidence "arguing?" These are honest questions, not trying to be cute. We appear in court and then what happens? Would bringing the plate be arguing? Does she appear and then we get new plates? Or should we do that now? I'm honestly not sure what I should expect or do about this beyond going to the court.
    Daniel M W likes this.
  6. graure

    graure Member

    You can always request to do a trial by mailing your statement in instead of wasting a day of your life at court. Most people do this for everyday car-related legal issues. I was suggesting that you just pay the $20 to remedy the situation and make an unassailable case that you have resolved the issue rather than trying to convince a judge that your plate wear is due to natural forces and not you intentionally scrubbing it off as the officer is claiming. Even if the judge sides with you, there's a possibility that they will still make you get a new plate, but in the worst case scenario, the judge agrees with the officer that you've tampered with your plate and you get hit with a $1000 fine. The stakes are too high to just say, "it was old and I'm innocent". The officer will testify that in their many years of experience, that this type of wear is very rare and is more consistent with tampering, and the judge will think to themself, "yes, my brother's 1996 car's plates don't look anything like this" and you will lose.

    Apply for your new plates now, take pictures of them, submit them with your trial by written declaration paperwork (request an extension if necessary) and put this behind you.
  7. KClark

    KClark Active Member

    I've done some googling and apparently if I apply for a new plate I have to turn in the old ones. So if I do this before the court what evidence is there that I didn't intentionally damage the plate and I'm trying to avoid the penalties? It seems that getting new plates now is a way to guarantee paying the fine instead of avoiding it. Like I said before, I still have too many questions and no real answers. My next step is talking with AAA, maybe they have some answers.

    Edit: The problem is that the ticket isn't a fix it type citation that requires the driver to demonstrate that the problem has been corrected within a specified time period, I wish it were that because then everything would be straightforward. Instead the citation only requires the driver to appear at court "on or before 9/13/19." There is no other information about what we should do or what will happen.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  8. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member

    This forum has a topic area for this kind of discussion where you will get broader help than from this Clarity topic area. Perhaps the mods can move this there to help you out. @Domenick
  9. sassnak

    sassnak New Member

    You don't say, but is your Civic a hatchback by any chance? I had a 2003 Civic hatch and I would get random offers from people to buy it, because people like to race them. If it is a hatch I bet that is what caught the officer's attention. Even if it isn't a hatch older Civics are popular for racing.

    I don't live in CA but I've had weird tickets like that before and based on my experience if you show up and explain the situation they should clear the ticket. Unless they've officially mandated updating your plates, they can't penalize you for it - they're the ones who didn't put a good enough coating on it. I'm sure they've seen it before. But you might still want to get the plates replaced so you don't have to deal with it in the future.
  10. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    She has a ticket that doesn't state what the infraction is only a court date?
  11. KClark

    KClark Active Member

    It’s a 4door sedan. The ticket lists the infraction but no fine is listed that can be paid and it is not a fix it citation with a deadline for making the repair. It only has appear on or before 9/13/19 at court.
  12. 4sallypat

    4sallypat Active Member

    Doesn't Glendale PD have anything better to do than ticket for silly things ???

    What do you do about plates that never had reflectorized coatings like the original black and yellow or my parents still have a blue plate w/ yellow alphanumerics.

    On my Clarity, I have 30 year old CA plates (personalized / amateur radio) that were issued in 1989 and moved over from 6 previous cars....

    These are the first generation reflectorized plates with the long gone CA sunset in the background - they have lost all their reflective coatings and the letters have started to fade almost to the point that it looks like it is bleached white - this is a similar plate - not mine...

    Here's an article that said it's hard to enforce because the police officer can not prove you intentionally defaced/altered a plate:

    You should be able to prove in court that there was no intent and therefore no violation.
  13. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    What exactly word for word is the infraction as stated on the ticket and the code number. All we have to go on so far is what you said your daughter-in-law said a police officer said.
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  14. KClark

    KClark Active Member

    Turns out this was not Glendale PD but LA County Sheriff.

    2002, there’s several other ways you could’ve asked that question without implying that I’m either uninformed, stupid, or lying. It is CA vehicle code 5201.1, the officer wrote, “Strip reflective coating from plate.” It is a non-correctable violation with notice to appear in LA Superior Court on or before 9/13/19.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  15. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    Sorry you took it that way that wasn’t the intent, but it’s nearly impossible to help someone without knowing exactly what was written on the ticket. CA VC 5201.1 has three subsections. Although your ticket doesn’t specify which of the three subsections your daughter-in-law has been cited for, based on what the officer told her it sounds like it is subsection (c) below:

    5201.1(a) Sale of Prohibited Product or Device to Obscure License Plate

    5201.1 (b) Operation of Vehicle With Prohibited Product or Device to Obstruct or Impair Reading or Recognition of License Plate by Electronic or Remote Emission Sensing Device

    5201.1 (c) Erasing, Painting Over, or Altering Reflective Coating of License Plate

    You are receiving advice from others that you can simply send in a written declaration. However that may not be an option here. According to the CA website regarding trial by written declaration it says that is only available if the ticket does not say that she must appear in court:

    You stated: "The ticket says she has to appear in court"
    and: "the citation only requires the driver to appear at court "on or before 9/13/19."
    and: "It is a non-correctable violation with notice to appear in LA Superior Court on or before 9/13/19"

    This sounds like trial by written declaration is not possible, however just to be sure you may want to go down to the court and talk to the court clerk and ask if a written declaration is possible. If they say yes they will give you the forms, part of it already filled in by them, along with instructions for completing and submitting. To get a preview of what the form would look like you can go to:

    Instructions for form TR-205
    Form TR-205

    However if the clerk says no she has to appear in court, then ask if the court appearance is an arraignment only or will she be able to present evidence at that time. I am pretty sure they will tell you it is just an arraignment. Either way at that point you probably should contact a lawyer for advice. A lawyer may even be able to appear in her place so she doesn't have to go, although that will of course cost extra. If you decide not to use a lawyer, then for the court appearance where she is able to present evidence you could prepare a written statement for her to read, along with evidence to present. I personally wouldn't recommend that she walk in there with the license plate, but using the above links for the written declaration as a guideline, photographs would be fine along with evidence proving how old the plates are, for example copies of any insurance or registration forms from years ago which have the license plate number on them.
  16. KClark

    KClark Active Member

    Very helpful, thanks for taking the time to explain this so thoroughly. Why such a major headache for something that could have been simply resolved with a correctable violation? The fine for this is $1100, all for something as obvious and innocuous as a burned out brake light. Monday morning I’m calling the court as a first step.

    Could I ask one question? My daughter in law lives in Utah and was just visiting, my son had their car so she took this one for a 5 minute trip. Since the violation is for the car and not something she did while driving can I request that the registered owner, me, be in court instead of her?
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  17. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    How very, very odd. Until I read your further comments, I assumed from the OP that the officer's intent was merely to force corrective action to be taken, presumably by getting the license plate replaced.

    I'm guessing it was either an overly zealous newbie cop, or someone facing the end of the month without meeting his quote of traffic citations issued.

    Anyway, in my experience judges are usually pretty reasonable. If you show up with the weathered plate in hand, and explain to the judge that you would have been happy to replace the plate if the license office had been willing to let you keep the old one as evidence, then it seems very likely that he'll dismiss the charge.

    The sad thing is that you have to go thru all this hassle for what apparently is a result of a cop who is abusing his police powers, either thru ignorance or indifference.

    I find it quite strange that the State of California allows 18 years to pass without replacing license plates. Here in Kansas I don't think I've ever seen more than about 5 years go by without the State issuing new plates when we go in for the yearly registration renewal. It's certainly understandable that a plate would get quite weathered in 18 years, and odd that any cop in the business of issuing traffic citations wouldn't have seen weathered plates before. As I said, maybe he's a newbie.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  18. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    Your first post says “it isn’t a fine...”. Your last post mentions an $1100 fine.

    It seems clear to me you’re not sure what is happening. And nobody here is going to have experience with his sort of thing, everyone is just saying “this is what I think...”

    The only obvious resolution here IMO is to contact the court and ask questions, and likely appear in court and plead your case. If it doesn’t turn out reasonably, then contact a lawyer for advice.
  19. KClark

    KClark Active Member

    Sorry but I know exactly what happened. When I wrote that there isn’t a fine I meant exactly what I said, the written citation does not specify a fine on it that I can pay the court to resolve the issue. When I googled the citation I discovered the $1100. Does that make it clear?

    Think for a minute about how illogical it is to make that statement on an internet discussion forum. All of us show up here and essentially say, “Hey, this happened to me with my car, has anyone else experienced that?” Or “Hey, I really like this about my car, does anyone else like that?” And then whoever responds says, “this is what I think...” The entire purpose of this forum is to ask questions and exchange experiences. Not everyone will have something to offer but someone out there almost always has also experienced what the questioner has. Why would you tell me that “nobody is going to have experience with this sort of thing.” Do you think I’m the first person on earth who has received a ticket like this? And even if I were wouldn’t it be valuable to let other people know that they might get this kind of ticket too?

    Ultimate resolutions of problems begin with asking questions before they are resolved, isn’t that your experience? For something this serious and costly wouldn’t you make some inquiries, maybe on a forum on the Internet with people who like cars? Of course I will call the court, of course I will appear and plead my case, of course I may contact a lawyer. And if you will read what came before your comments you will see that I and others have already said all of that.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  20. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    My apologies for a post that offered no value. I retract it in total.

    In its place I offer only wishes of a positive outcome to the citation, a happy Fathers Day, and an abundance of God’s blessings always.
    bwilson4web likes this.

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