21 NEWS INVESTIGATES: Possible loophole in Ohio traffic camera law
A simple search on the web will reveal a number of products and 'do-it-yourself' tricks to mask your plate.
Red light and speed cameras have been controversial in some cities and so is a way drivers are trying to avoid being ticketed.
Products that claim to disguise your license plate are popping up on the internet.
A simple search on the web will reveal a number of products and 'do-it-yourself' tricks to mask your plate. The products vary but are based on the same idea that a reflection would make the plate unable to be read. Therefore, the police can't send you a ticket.
But, are the products legal in Ohio and Pennsylvania?
In Ohio, the law states that all license plates "shall not be covered by any material that obstructs their visibility."
But products 21 News found on PhantomPlate.com, pour and spray on clear to the naked eye. So, would they be legal in the Buckeye State?
Our 21 News attorney said that he doesn't see any Ohio law that directly addresses whether using those products is lawful, but laws of several other states explicitly prohibit using those products to try to evade cameras that automatically photograph your license plate.
For example, Delaware goes as far as to say, "It shall be unlawful to sell, offer to sell, transfer, possess or use any kind of device, product, plate cover, or object, including any image altering device or spray, for the purpose of hindering, inhibiting, impeding, impairing, or preventing the photographing, recording or imaging of a license plate in connection with the enforcement of this motor vehicle code or any local or municipal traffic laws."
Other states that clearly address the products include Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, California and Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania, the law says, "It is unlawful to display on any vehicle a registration plate which: is obscure in any manner which inhibits the proper operation of an automated red light enforcement system."
The penalty for an obscured plate in Pennsylvania is a $100 fine.
And while the company, Phantom Plate, wants to be clear that they don't condone speeding or running a red light, they do stand behind their product.
"So by making one character, one letter, or even the state unreadable," said the Vice President of Marketing Joe Scott. "The ticket becomes void."
In the end, driver beware. While Ohio law may not specifically address products like those sold at PhantomPlate.com, local law can sometimes be made more stringent.
21 News checked with Youngstown, the largest community in our area using speed cameras, and Law Director Jeff Limbian said the city does not have any additional laws on the books that would specifically address these types of products. Limbian said that may change. He also noted that he would be interested to see how a judge would interpret the law is presented in a case.