License plate covers are legal, but you could still get a ticket

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How they work

PHOENIX -- Photo radar cameras are a hot topic these days, but what if there were a way to fly under the radar and avoid having your picture snapped?

The obvious answer is just don't speed and you'll avoid a ticket.

But what about those photo radar license plate covers? Are they legal here in Arizona? Well, the answer is yes, they are legal.

But even though they are legal, that doesn't mean you won't be stopped by a cop and given a ticket.

If this sounds a little confusing, it's all because of how the law is written.

Mark Ciammitti is making a lot of money these days all because he's selling reflective covers that are supposed to shield your license plate from getting snapped by photo radar.

"I mean I have people coming in and buying three, four or five at a time," he said.

Ciammitti owns two different stores called Spy Headquaters and says he can barely keep the license plate covers in stock.

"As soon as I get a batch in, they're gone within a couple of days," he said.

The $30 reflective cover fits over your license plate. So if photo radar snaps a picture of your plate, the flash from the camera reflects off the cover, making your plate unreadable.

"Basically, when the flash goes off, it reflects most of it back so in the picture the numbers don't show up," Ciammitti explained.

And with no license plate number they can't mail you a ticket.

But are these reflective covers legal? The answer is kind of.

Arizona state law only says that, "A person shall maintain each license plate so it is clearly legible." That's it.

Here's the deal. Remember, the law says these plate covers are not illegal. All it says is that your license plate must be clearly legible and according to this plate cover, from all angles the plate is clearly legible.

However, that doesn't mean you're in the clear.

Let's say a police officer is behind you and can't read your license plate because that reflective cover is too shiny or reflective.

Well, expect to get pulled over because if the officer can't see your entire plate number, then by state law your plate is not "legible."

"So, you do run the risk of being pulled over and being told to take it off and I do tell people that," Ciammitti said.

So remember, if you choose to buy a reflective cover, it might save you from a speeding ticket. But beating photo radar doesn't mean that a cop can't write you a ticket anyway.

By the way, I talked to a few state lawmakers who told me that their phone is ringing off the hook from angry motorists who hate photo radar.

But in the meantime, it's here and it's making the state a lot of money.