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That Licence Plate Cover Might Cost You $110 Ticket?


A CTV report that highlights the fine that one driver just got for having the “Yours To Discover” of his licence plate covered by a car dealer’s promotional plate cover/frame, much like those on many of our cars, can land you in conflict with the Highway Traffic Act and earn you a $110 fine or at least one day in court.

It seems odd that with possibly millions of these plate covers on vehicles in Ontario that the dealerships have not been made aware of this law and how their advertising can put their customers at risk.  In addition to obscuring any portion of the licence plate, it seems that tinted covers that can obscure the plate from the cameras that capture your plate on toll roads (any maybe even the police cars that have licence plate cameras on them) are also illegal.

Do you have an illegal licence plate cover?  If the police advice to leave your plate uncovered and unobscured is the best advice, it is also a sad reality (shown in the video above) that cost cutting measures taken by the Province have led to inferior plates that peel and fade prematurely unless protected in some way, not mention vanity plates that come at considerable expense and that many owners likely cover to protect their investments.

News1010 interviewed the same police officer and reports:

“The licence plate cannot be obstructed in any way shape or form,” explains Const. Clint Stibbe with Toronto Police’s Traffic Services of the little-known law. “That includes things like spare tires, bumpers, objects that have been attached to the plate, plate covers, any number of different things.”

Stibbe explains a clear cover could be considered to be obstructing the plate beneath it if it is dirty, caked with road salt, faded or fogged over. At some angles, a clear cover can distort a plate number so that it cannot be properly recorded by red light or highway 407 cameras.

Though officers can exercise their own discretion, violating this section of the Highway Traffic Act comes with a $110 fine. Stibbe could not say how often Toronto officers write up tickets for licence plate infractions.

Stibbe says the rules are designed to help officers identify a car’s origin at a glance, so anything that alters a plate’s colouring or blocks it, even partially, is not allowed.

“Just because something is sold or is available to be put on a vehicle doesn’t necessarily make it legal,” says Const. Stibbe.

Despite their presence in some Service Ontario locations, the MTO says it “does not endorse or promote the sale, purchase, or use of clear or tinted licence plate covers.”

A spokesperson with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services which oversees Service Ontario expects a re-assessment of the issue in the coming weeks.

“It has come to our attention that over the years the technology has changed so even the clear licence plate covers now may cause the plates to not be plainly visible,” Anne-Marie Flanagan tells NEWSTALK 1010. “So this is obviously is something we’re going to look into and review relevant policies.”

Plastic frames that hug your licence plate while proclaiming your allegiance to the Maple Leafs or that you are a proud soccer mom can also land you a ticket, even if the numbers and letters at the centre of plate are clear.

“They have a tendency to cover the ‘Ontario’ designation and the ‘Yours to Discover’,” Const. Stibbe explains. “On its face that doesn’t’ seem very important, but when you are dealing with a car that is going out of country or one that’s coming in from say, the United States–if certain parts of those plates are covered, it would in some cases not allow the officers to know what state that plate may be coming from.”

Stibbe says this can make tracking a vehicle down after a crime that much more difficult

In many cases a dealership will slap a branded frame on your car’s licence plates before you drive it off the lot. But Stibbe says the fact that you did not screw them on yourself does not get you off the hook.

“In the end, the only person that essentially is going to be held responsible for it is the individual operating the vehicle.” – See more at: http://www.newstalk1010.com/news/2015/07/14/update-government-to-review-sale-of-clear-licence-plate-covers-after-newstalk-1010-queries

More coverage: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-driver-ticketed-3-times-for-licence-plate-covers-1.3064957



  1. My wife got $63 ticket in Hull, Quebec, with (No color) transparent license plate cover which you can clearly see a license number at wide angles. She bought these covers at Canadian Tire to protect plate from sticky icy and salt in the winter. I just removed them

  2. I have to show both plates very clearly I have a ve1 plate set of two and im told I cant display just one why don’t they make a near non destructive plate and make the front plate so it can clearly be read from your mirror, make everyone display two plates and NOTHING COVERING IT ALLSO NO DARK WINDOWS ,

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That Licence Plate Cover Might Cost You $110 Ticket?

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