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License Plate Obstruction Information

August 31, 2006 -- Recently there have been some questions regarding State of Texas traffic laws. The below information may be useful:

QUESTION 1: How many plates are legally required in Texas?

ANSWER: Two license plates are required. One attached to the front of the vehicle and one attached to the rear of the vehicle.

Texas traffic code, section 502.404 states in part:

“A person commits an offense if the person operates…a passenger car or commercial motor vehicle that does not display two license plates, at the front and rear of the vehicle;”

QUESTION 2: Is it permissible to have protective material covering a license plate or to have a frame around the license plate?

ANSWER: The law prohibits protective material to cover a license plate. The law also prohibits a license plate frame from obscuring the plate number or the wording “State of Texas” or “Lone Star State.”

Texas traffic code, section 502.409 state in part:

“A person commits an offense if the person attaches to…a number plate…decal, emblem or other insignia that is not authorized by law and that interferes with the readability of the letters or numbers on the plate or the name of the state in which the vehicle is registered…”

These laws were passed to simplify identification of license plates by citizens and the law enforcement community from both the front and back of the vehicle. The general public needs to be aware that they must have a license plate on the front and back of the vehicle. The public also needs to know that any material that covers or blocks any portion of the license plate needs to be removed. This includes most dealer, sports and school alumni license plate frames. This law originated with state toll road authorities experiencing an alarming degree of violations at toll facilities due to the use of devices that render the characters and state on the license plate undetectable to toll road cameras.

Click here for photographs of vehicles in violation of the traffic laws.

For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division a 713-308-3200.