Defacing license plates is illegal

Defacing license plates is illegal

January 16, 2014

Some examples of what's NOT allowed.

License plates are a popular topic here on the ADOT Blog. We’ve covered how they’re made, the many specialty designs available and the differences between various plates.

But today’s subject is less about the plates themselves and more about what you can and cannot do to them.

Defacing vehicle license plates is illegal

ADOT, in partnership with the Phoenix Police Department, wants to make drivers aware of the laws governing registration and proper display of Arizona-issued license plates.

A vehicle owner who breaks the law could be charged with a misdemeanor, with court fines of at least $300.

What you need to know

Your Arizona-issued license plate must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle with the following requirements:

  • Must be displayed in a position so the license plate is clearly legible, securely attached to prevent swinging and at a height at least 12 inches from the ground to the bottom of the plate. The name of the state at the top of the plate cannot be obscured or covered.
  • Temporary issued placards must also be displayed per the same requirements.
  • Arizona law requires the vehicle owner to replace any issued license plate that has become damaged, deteriorated, illegible or unreadable.

Phoenix Police Department officers, along with other law enforcement agencies around the state, are vigilant in the enforcement of traffic violations, with a focus on issuing citations to motorists for the improper display of a license plate along with violations of vehicle registration and proof of insurance requirements. ADOT Enforcement and Compliance Division officers also conduct statewide enforcement campaigns aimed at vehicle registration compliance.

Arizona law requires, with some exceptions, all motor vehicles that will be operated on a public roadway or highway to be currently registered and displaying the issued license plate and validation tab. A vehicle owner must apply for an Arizona vehicle title and current registration within 15 days of the purchase or transfer of a motor vehicle or trailer.

State law also prohibits the issued registration card from being changed, defaced or altered. A vehicle registration card and proof of insurance must be provided upon request of a police officer conducting a traffic stop.

Find more MVD information on our website.