Police can soon ticket drivers with license plate frames

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PHOENIX -- Look around and license plate frames are everywhere. Car dealers put them on vehicles when they make a sale. It's kind of like free advertisement. Sports fans may have a license plate frame to show support for their team.

But be careful because your license plate frame, no matter what it says, just might get you pulled over in the near future.

People usually have them on the back of their cars to make a statement.

"My statement says that we are affiliated with Arizona State University and we're proud of that affiliation," Coni Batille said.

"My Steelers -- I'm from Pittsburg!" Paty Nelson said.

Nelson and Batille say they like their license plate frames. That's why they put them on their cars to begin with.

"It says something about our connection to an institution, a highly regarded institution," Batille said.

"It's my sports team, period!" Nelson said.

But their big statements could be interpreted as being illegal come January. Not because of what the frames show, but what the frames don't show.

"License plate frames are going to have to allow the state of Arizona to be shown at the top of the Arizona license plate," said Cydney Demodica with the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles.

State lawmakers have apparently added a sentence to the statute that regulates license plates. It now reads every license plate should be "clearly legible so that the name of this state at the top of the license plate is not obscured."

So, you might not think it's obscured, but if the police officer behind thinks the word "Arizona" is not clearly visible, you can be pulled over.

"Law enforcement can cite people for not having the state of Arizona visible," Demodica said.

That's right. License plate frames that totally block the state's name will be illegal.

As for frames that partially block the state's name, it will be up the officer to decide to cite you or not.

"I don't like that!" Nelson said.

"I'm shocked," Batille said. "I'm shocked because this is the first I've heard."

So remember, you can still have a license plate frame and you can still make your statement, just make sure that statement doesn't cover the word "Arizona."

"Well, I'll change it," Batille said.

"I'm going to have to take if off, I guess, and then I'll have to put a bumper sticker," Nelson said.

And the tickets are going to be pricey. Each city will come up with its own penalty, but you can pretty much count on citations costing around $130 or more.