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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Ok so after owning my car for a little over a year now, the car (with one of my friends driving) was stopped for the second time for lack of a front license plate. (I could go on about the whole experience, but I'll leave it at that)

The the thing of it is, I really don't want to put a large white american plate on the front of my black car (I know you can get a bracket that screws into the recovery point), I also don't need any excuses to get pulled over. I know a few of you have tried to get creative to minimize the size of a plate by trimming it down so that just the important parts (ie numbers and state) are shown. Is that my best bet to preserve the cleanliness of the front end? Is there a way to get a special made euro style plate with my numbers that would be legal? Or should I just suck it up and get pulled over once in a while?

What are your all takes on this?
 

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i suck it up and put the plate on the BWR holder (edit). Looks ok at best but its better than getting pulled over. if there is a small motorcycle-sized option, lmk; i had a lawyer look into it for me a while ago and came up with no legal option.

eventually i went with a personallized palte, bc its totally retro. black n white. no color. no logo. no saying. no website address. pretty stark.
 

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i dont use the front plate. i just keep it in the front with me so if i get pulled over i can show them i have it and explain how there isnt a spot for it. ill just pay the fine.
 

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Search for a post by Scrumpot on the federal exemption Lotus have from 2004 - 2007 (I think). I carried it with me everywhere I went.
 

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The trouble with that Federal expemtion is that it is for having no bumpers and non-sealed beam headlights. Whether we owners like it or not, we can mount a tag on the car by drilling into the front clam. (A heinous idea, but from a legal standpoint, it can be done) So, right now, we are stuck. I don't know why some states need fron tags and others don't, other than maybe it's so they have one more thing to stop and ticket you for. Let's face it, at highway speeds, no one could read a front plate, so why have it? But, at a slow speed, a speed camera or red light camera could see the plate...


I used the BWR bracket. It is not great, but it is legal, which is all I really care about. I didn't have to drill any body parts, and the bracket comes off for car shows...
 

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Like Jimmy said, search for Scrumpots post on this. He explains this in great detail and has fought the ticket with success.
 

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Like Jimmy said, search for Scrumpots post on this. He explains this in great detail and has fought the ticket with success.
Grant (Scrumpot) DID indeed beat one, maybe two of his tickets. But that was good fortune on his part. He got a judge or judges who had other things to think about. Don't assume for a minute that the exemption excuse would work in all Maryland courts with all judges, because it won't.

As Mike said, there is NOTHING, not a word in Maryland law that says not having a bumper to mount the tag is an excuse to not have a tag. A tag is required with or without a bumper. Technically, Maryland would be within its authority to forbid the sale of the bumper-less Lotus altogether. They are not bound to honor the federal exemption. California's more strict emmissions laws show that states are not bound by the fed regs for autos. Fact is, when the Daytona Chargers and Plymouth Superbirds were originally sold for street use, Maryland did not permit their sales or registration inside the state. Those pointy front ends did not have bumpers.

States may not be able to allow cars LESS 'safe' or polluting than the feds require, but they ARE able to impose more strict standards.

Again, my hat's off to Grant, but his beating the ticket had nothing really to do with the law as written, so following his lead may, or may not get you off the hook. If you're looking for a 100% surefire way to beat the ticket, Grant's way won't do it.

Dave Dodge, who checks in on here once in awhile (dododge I think) had one of those euro plates made and used it for awhile. But again, if you get a cop with a burr in his saddle, that won't get you off the hook either. Nor will trimming the tag. You could be cited for defacing the tag.

I know a guy with a Ford GT who had a Maryland tag reproduced onto a motorcyle sized tag, then mounted it in a clear plastic holder on the front of his car. Didn't look too bad.

It really all depends on the mood of the judge and/or the cop. Maryland says you have to have a front tag. That's the way it is.

Personally, with state budgets across the country sinking in red ink, I think you'll see more enforcement of all motor vehicle laws....more strict, fewer warnings. It's a revenue source and they're squeezing every nickel they can.
 

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A member here also bent the front plate instead of cutting it that way it was not defacing the plate. It is obviously stretching it, but if I have troubles in the future, that is what I will probably do. I haven't been pulled over for the plate and when I was pulled over for other things, the cop never even looked so I have been lucky thus far.
 

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States may not be able to allow cars LESS 'safe' or polluting than the feds require, but they ARE able to impose more strict standards.

Nor will trimming the tag. You could be cited for defacing the tag.

QUOTE]

States have jurisdiction (concurrent power) on emissions, but not on safety (Interstate Commerce Clause).

My understanding is that in MD you can trim the tag to a smaller dimension as long as all the pertinent information is retained. The tags do belong to the state, but I don't think there is a crime of defacing a tag. Maybe "destroying state property," but I'd like to see a prosecutor take that before a judge given the sheer number of tags lost and damaged each year.

I consider "The Scrumpot Decision" to be the precedent setting ruling in MD on Lotus and will defend it with my last breath! Long live Federalism!
 

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+1 on no trimming or defacing the plate.

We had a Q&A with CHP on Angeles Crest when Delise, JMG85 and I all got ticketed for no front plate. Officer told us that only permissible damage was obvious road damage, no bends, no trimming.
 

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I've been informed that its illegal to have the part of the tag where it says "Maryland" covered... That was from a guy who heard it from a cop, but not direct from "the books" so take that for what it's worth. I do know I got pulled driving on campus at work the other day. Cop asked me to check with the dealer to see if they sold an adapter for the front of the car since he actually walked up there and inspected the front for a place to mount it, before he came to my window. It was interesting that a Federal cop asked me if they made an adapter. I wish I'd have said no (they don't, its part of the splitter, right?). Fortunately, I only received a warning, but I will not be driving the car to work again. Just one more reason I want to move back to PA!
 

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California's more strict emmissions laws show that states are not bound by the fed regs for autos.
Actually, California (and other states) have to get permission from the Feds to impose stricter emission requirements on vehicles - CARB just went through a recent battle to get permission to increase (decrease actually) their limits...
 

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Last time I tried to fight a front plate ticket, the judge said "get 2 screws and screw it into the bumper" and I paid the $60.00 fine and moved on...

So my suggestion, just pay the $60 and move on...
 

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I just got my Maryland plates and I have the rear installed. I plan to keep the front plate on the side of the passenger seat and wait until I get pulled over and then act friendly-stupid. If asked about the plate I'll say there are not mount holes and I have been looking for a suitable bracket and ask the officer if he has any ideas. I may even tell him the dealer told me it was OK since the car has a Federal bumper exemption. Hopefully this will merit a warning only. After the first incident I will buy a bracket and keep the plate affixed to the bracket behind the seat and explain that it fell off and that I plan to put it back once I get home; I may even scuff it up a bit for effect. I figure this will hold me for several years. Heck, I may even take the front plate of my '71 coupe as an act of defiance!

I just ran in to a young fellow with a 3-series BMW who did not have a front tag. He had screwed both of them on the back (one on top of other). He said he got pulled over a few weeks ago and got a warning - the officer told him to put the plate on the front when he got home. He agreed but somehow forgot.

Another good bet is to donate to the police protective fund charities and get the window decals. The Sheriff's and Firemans funds are also a good bet. I don't know if they will help when pulled over but they can't hurt. :cool:

You got'ta love civil disobience. Okay, maybe misdemeanor offenses. Kind of like going 24.9mph (not quite reckless) over the speed limit on highway entrance/exit ramps; of course no one here ever does that. -poke-
 

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Yeah but who wants the window decal? The idea is to keep the car clean... that's how we got on the subject of no front plate! LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Thank you all for your input. After reading about various brackets and ways to mount a plate - even the best of the custom made brackets are going to have a risk factor of either scratching the front end or damaging the structure of the car if the bracket is screwed into the recovery point and you bump something - I was told for this reason not to leave the tow hook in place.

At any rate, I think what I am going to do is go to my local police station in Westminster and explain the situation. Both times I have been pulled over have been in the city limits, although I havn't recieved an actual ticket for the violation yet. I would go in and explain my willingness to comply, but that no solid bracket exist (the ones you can buy I hear have a short life span) and ask them about using a Euro-style plate which would install nicely in the spot that is provided. Depending on how this goes (although I may order anyway), I will order my numbers on the plate as pictured on the link below.

European License Plates - Custom European License Plates : Maryland European License Plate - $44.95

It will cost a little bit of money, but that alone should work in my favor by trying to comply in what I believe to be the sturdiest (and cleanest) of solutions.
 

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I like the magnet solution. Buy 2 pairs of magnets - epoxy one half of each pair to each end of the plate panel (inside), using the other mating halves on the outside to hold them in place while they set up. Then just use more epoxy on the front surface of each visible magnet and duct tape the plate in the correct position. 5 minutes later - instantly removable plate!

"Sorry officer, I guess it must have been knocked off somewhere.... you can check my ingenious mounting method, guess it failed me this time....." (front plate meanwhile residing in trunk) :)
 

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I like the magnet solution. Buy 2 pairs of magnets - epoxy one half of each pair to each end of the plate panel (inside), using the other mating halves on the outside to hold them in place while they set up. Then just use more epoxy on the front surface of each visible magnet and duct tape the plate in the correct position. 5 minutes later - instantly removable plate!

"Sorry officer, I guess it must have been knocked off somewhere.... you can check my ingenious mounting method, guess it failed me this time....." (front plate meanwhile residing in trunk) :)
Yep, I have been running a similar system using magnets with mounting tape stuck to the inside of the front clam lower lip and the original license plate bracket from Lotus with the mounting studs removed and more magnets attached to it. The bracket/license plate holds firmly in place to the lower lip (I've had it up to 100mph with no movement) and the bracket can be pulled off at any time with no signs of it having been there. The only down side to this method is that it will not work with the rounded lip on the Exige.
 

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Below is the excerpt from Maryland code talking about tags (the word 'bumper' appears nowhere). It also doesn't say a front tag isn't necessary if there isn't an obvious, convenient, or unobtrusive place to mount it. BTW, the Pontiac Solstice, fully bumpered and crash compliant, has even fewer plate mounting options than the Elige when it comes to aesthetics or air flow...and it doesn't get off the hook!

There is an interesting mistake/typo that profoundly changes what I believe is the intent on how it is to be mounted. Doesn't mitigate the need for a front tag, just how it's to be mounted. Do you see it?



§ 13-411.
(a) On a vehicle for which two registration plates are required, one plate shall be attached on the front and the other on the rear of the vehicle.


(b) On a vehicle for which one registration plate is required, the plate shall be attached on the:


(1) Front of the vehicle for a Class F (tractor) vehicle; and


(2) Rear of the vehicle for every other vehicle.


(c) At all times, each registration plate shall be:


(1) Maintained free from foreign materials, including registration plate covers as defined in § 13-411.1 of this subtitle, and in a condition to be clearly legible; and


(2) Securely fastened to the vehicle for which it is issued:


(i) In a horizontal position;


(ii) In a manner that prevents the plate from swinging; and


(iii) In a place and position to be clearly visible.
 

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European License Plates - Custom European License Plates : Maryland European License Plate - $44.95

It will cost a little bit of money, but that alone should work in my favor by trying to comply in what I believe to be the sturdiest (and cleanest) of solutions.
The design you linked to has a big Maryland flag on it. Maryland Article 13-410(b) explicitly lists what must be visible on a license plate, and it requires the name of the state, which may be abbreviated. This backs up what Walnuts heard 2nd-hand about covering up the "Maryland". The law is intended to guide the design of official plates (it does not permit you to make your own) but since you're going to be mounting a ticketable plate it probably can't hurt to stick to the code as much as possible. I got mine from licenseplates.tv and prefixed my registration number with "MD":



That said, even this Euro design scraped the ground occasionally, so be sure to mount it as high as you can. I had it attached with velcro to avoid it getting bound up and damaging the clam, and I lost track of how many times I had to pull over and pick it up off the pavement. Parking lots drainage dips were the worst but even regular uneven street surfaces occasionally knocked it off. After one too many times I didn't bother to put it back on, and currently run without any plate at all.

BTW I got my first no-plate ticket on July 4th. :rolleyes:

Really there's no guaranteed solution other than mounting the vanilla plate with no modifications. It all comes down to the individual officer and all indications are that there is a wide range of opinions about front plates on their end:

  • The trooper who finally gave me a ticket for it pulled out of the median and came after me on a 6-lane highway in heavy (and definitely not speeding) traffic for no other reason than the missing plate, and it didn't matter that I had the plate with me in the trunk or that the front was clearly not designed to mount one. His parting words were a suggestion that I find someone to machine/design a bracket that would work. He was pleasant enough about it, but if you run across a guy who wants or feels he need to give you this ticket, you're gonna get one.
  • Last year when I was given a warning for something else, that trooper didn't even mention the missing front plate.
  • When I was using the Euro plate, I once -- out of many trips -- had a guard at a military installation look at it funny and give me a verbal heads-up that some cops might have a problem with it.
  • I have seen a county cop state in an online forum that he has never written a front plate ticket and has no intention of ever doing so.

It's the luck of the draw. In 3 years of daily-driving with either a Euro plate or no plate I've only gotten one ticket for it. Considering how much I've spent on insurance, tires, brakes, and service, the hassle of being pulled over at all is worse than the $60 fine. If you don't drive the car that often or have to pass through an area where there's a cop that likes to give these tickets, then a solution might be more pressing.
 
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