[Elfsea] FWD: [NorthTexasMiataOwnersGroup] Digest Number 346

Wilkerson, Glen D glen.d.wilkerson at lmco.com
Wed Sep 24 05:12:32 PDT 2003

And there's another traffic law that hasn't had that much discussion or
publicity - I just tripped across it when I was looking up the details of
the new license plate law.

When you come upon an emergency vehicle with it's lights on (a police
officer making a traffic stop, for instance) it requires you to move to the
next inside lane of traffic, or in the case of only a two lane road, it
requires you to slow down 20 miles an hour below the posted speed limit, or
to 5 miles an hour if the posted speed is 20 or less.


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Threlkeld [mailto:rjt at acm.org] 
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2003 9:49 AM
To: elfsea at ansteorra.org
Subject: [Elfsea] FWD: [NorthTexasMiataOwnersGroup] Digest Number 346

Please excuse the bandwidth, but I know there has been some discussion of
this law and you might want the essential info on it.



Message: 1
   Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2003 19:18:29 -0000
   From: "Elizabeth Bailey" <ebaileyl at attbi.com>
Subject: License Plate Law


                           For Immediate Release
                       Thursday, September 18, 2003

License Plate Law - Senate Bill 439

Senate Bill 439 was passed during the 78th Regular Session of the Texas
Legislature updating Section 502.409 of the Transportation Code regulating
wrong, fictitious, altered, or obscured license plates.

The impetus for Senate Bill 439 originated with state toll road authorities
experiencing an alarming degree of violations at toll facilities due to the
use of illuminated devices and plastic coatings that render the characters
and state on license plates undetectable to toll enforcement cameras.  The
much broader, overall purpose of the bill, however, was to improve public
safety by simplifying license plate identification.

Prior to September 1, 2003, Section 502.409 prohibited the attachment of
"blurring" matter to a license plate and any sticker, decal, or other
insignia that interfered with the readability of the letters or numbers on
the license place.  In addition, prior law prohibited the attachment of a
coating, covering, or protective material that distorts the angular
visibility or detectability of the license plate.

Section 502.409, as modified by Senate Bill 439, now additionally prohibits
the attachment of "reflective" matter to a license plate and any illuminated
device or emblem that interferes with the readability of the letters,
numbers, or name of the state on the license plate. 
Furthermore, Senate Bill 439 additionally prohibited the attachment of a
coating, covering, or protective material that alters or obscures the
letters, numbers, color, or original design features of the license plate.

In some instances, modified Subsection (a)(6) of Section 502.409 pertaining
to illuminated devices, stickers, decals, emblems, and other insignias is
apparently being confused with modified Subsection
(a)(7) pertaining to coatings, coverings, and protective material.  
Subsection (a)(6) was intended to apply to accessories such as license plate
frames, while Subsection (a)(7) was intended to apply only to accessories or
material covering the entire viewable surface of the license plate.

In an effort to dispel any confusion, Representative Peggy Hamric (R-Harris
County), a member of the House Transportation Committee who filed in the
Texas House of Representatives a bill identical to Senate Bill 439 and who
sponsored the senate bill in the House, has clarified that the intent of the
bill was not to make license frames a crime, so long as the letters,
numbers, and state name are readable.

Representative Hamric stated, "Proper identification of license plates is
essential to public safety.  This law was intended to simplify
identification of license plates by citizens and law enforcement.  I myself
have license plate frames; however, license frames are an accessory not a
necessity.  Prior law already prohibited certain accessories from
interfering with the readability of the letters or numbers on the license
plate.  Texas law now mandates that these accessories may not additionally
interfere with the readability of the name of the state on the license
place.  If we allow the name of the state on our license plates to be
covered up, then what is the point of having it on there?  I believe public
awareness of this change in the law and the exercise of common sense and
discretion by law enforcement agencies will remedy most of the complaints
against the change."

Violation of Section 502.409 of the Transportation Code is a Class C
misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $200, unless it is shown
at the trial that the owner knowingly altered or made illegible the letters,
numbers, and other identification marks on the license plate, in which case
the offense is a Class B misdemeanor.

For additional information, please contact:

Charles Saunders, General Counsel
Office of Representative Peggy Hamric
State Capitol GW.7
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, Texas  78768-2910
(512) 463-0496


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