License plate covers, shields made illegal by Gov. Ducey - Tucson News Now

License plate covers, shields made illegal by Gov. Ducey

(Source: KOLD News 13) (Source: KOLD News 13)
(Source: KOLD News 13) (Source: KOLD News 13)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation that bans license plate covers typically used to prevent photo enforcement cameras from capturing an image of the plate, and law enforcement officials are responding.

Democratic Sen. Steve Farley of Tucson has been trying for seven years to get the ban enacted.

"When I had it heard before the Transportation Committee in the Senate, the first question that came from a Senator was, 'I thought this was already illegal?' And that's been most people's response," Farley told Tucson News Now.

The Tucson lawmaker says his license plate cover bill isn't just about photo enforcement. He says it makes no sense to require a license plate and then allow covers that can make them difficult if not impossible to read.

"My concern was about legibility from patrolmen and witnesses to crimes on the streets. The fact is that these covers, while may have been intended to obscure from photo enforcement, are actually obscuring the license plates from the naked eye in certain times of day," Farley said.

According to Dep. Cody Gress with the Pima County Sheriff's Department, red light enforcement cameras in the city of Tucson and Pima County have all been disabled. Previous Arizona law made it illegal to have certain parts of your plates covered, like the state of Arizona text or the registration sticker.

Ducey signed Senate Bill 1073 on Tuesday, March 28.

Farley calls the signing "a miracle for common sense." For law enforcement, it's more of a problem with criminals.

"Yes, people are up to no good, and up to criminal activity, and they use it as a means to block that license plate for identification purposes," Gress said.

He said that even though drivers might think the clear covers are OK, they have a tendency to become discolored over time.

Under the new law, it is illegal for drivers to "apply a covering or any substance to the license plate or use an electronic device or electromagnetic film that obscures from any angle the numbers, characters, year validating tabs or name of the jurisdiction issuing the plate."

Farley said the new law would likely go into effect in August, or 90 days after the end of the current legislative session.

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Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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