7 On Your Side: Drivers fined for license plate frames that block words

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Car owners are getting tickets for license plate frames that partially obscure the "tag line" on their license plate, and they're incensed about it.

Joanne Lufrano, a math professor at Hofstra University, got a $65 ticket while she was out buying deli meat in Little Italy.

"I didn't even know this was a thing, or what a tag line is," she said.

Fire inspector Alfred Pride got a violation on his car while parked in Midtown, the violation reading "Plate improperly displayed, tag line covered."

"I was like whoa, whoa, whoa, what is this?" he said.

Both drivers were using the plate frames placed on their cars by their car dealers.

The frame allows "New York" to be shown, but it covers up "Empire State" at the bottom -- which is apparently illegal.

According to New York City Department of Transportation rules, "Valid plates must be properly displayed, kept clean in a condition that is readable, not be covered by glass or any plastic material."

"I think the whole thing is a sham," Pride said. "C'mon, New York, you can get money without squeezing cats like me I'm a hard working man."

From 2015 to last year, $21 million fines were issued for various charges of obscuring license plates.

We went to the dealers that sold Lufrano and Pride their cars, and both said they never knew they had offending frames.

But after our call, each paid their customers' fines for them. They also vowed to change the plate frames.

"I'm so happy, and I love 7 On Your Side," Lufrano said. "And anyone has a problem, just contact you."

The big takeaway is that both New York and New Jersey's current law states that if any information is obscured, you could be in violation. So take a look at your own plate and if there's a problem, simply unscrew the plate frame.

In New Jersey, an assemblyman introduced legislation last year that would exempt dealer frames that may obscure plates. So far, there hasn't been a vote on that bill.

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