Ask a Trooper: Anything covering rear license plate is illegalQ: For many years, people have been pulled over and cited for a rear license lamp burned out. But I see vehicles with bicycles on a rack on the rear of the vehicle, entirely blocking the rear license plate.
By: Sgt. Curt S. Mowers, For the Duluth News Tribune
Q: For many years, people have been pulled over and cited for a rear license lamp burned out. The argument was it was hard for the officer to identify the license number.
Now here’s the dichotomy. The past few years, I see vehicles with bicycles on a rack on the rear of the vehicle (sometimes as many as three or four bicycles), entirely blocking the rear license plate. Also, there are now vehicles carrying coolers and gas cans on the rear of the vehicle with a rack that mounts on their rear hitch adapter. The rear license is not visible.
Why do you pick on someone who has a burned out lamp, but let these other motorists get by obliterating their license plate?
A: It’s not a dichotomy at all. All of the cases you mentioned are against the law and it is certainly not considered “picking on” somebody when there are legitimate violations of law. Who said we let them “get by?” That is a false assumption, based on the fact that you are seeing so many of those violations existing. (We don’t get all the speeders or drunks either.)
Q: I see drivers holding their dogs when driving their vehicles. Is this against the law, and if not, why not? I think this is another area of distractive driving that should be addressed. Thank you for your insight.
A: For that purpose, there is no specific law, but there are laws (including the distracted driving law) for which a case could be made relative to that. People in the business of buying and selling (breeding, kennels, etc.) dogs and transporting them have strict rules and laws concerning their transport. For traffic safety purposes, it is not safe and drivers not only need to be paying attention, but they should not be allowing any interference of any kind with their driving. Also, all drivers should be aware of the dangers for themselves and their animals if they are involved in a crash. Having pets in kennels or cages, and having the kennel or cage secured in the vehicle, is the best way to go, no matter what. Thanks for asking.
Sgt. Curt S. Mowers is a regional public information officer for the Minnesota State Patrol.