Fla. drivers face fines, check your license plate frame - WFLA News Channel 8

Fla. drivers face fines, check your license plate frame

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

If you have a decorative bracket around your license plate tag - even if a car dealer put it there - chances are good you're breaking Florida law.

The brackets, advertising dealerships, universities, or just there to spice up the look of the plate, are all over Tampa Bay roadways.

But some drivers are finding out they're illegal. If the bracket covers any of the words on the plate, including myFlorida.com or Sunshine State, it's illegal and you could be pulled over for the violation by law enforcement. The ticket is over $100.

Law enforcement doesn't track this specific violation, but court records show the statute used to cite this type of ticket was used in Tampa Bay more than 2,000 times last year.

Anecdotal evidence suggests more drivers are hearing about this violation from law enforcement.

Kevin Munsey, of Pinellas County, was shocked when a Florida State Trooper told him his Elder Ford bracket was illegal and had to be taken off.

"I've had these brackets on every car I've ever owned," he said. "I've never heard of this. How can something the car dealer puts on your car cost you money?"

But Sergeant Steve Gaskins, of Florida Highway Patrol, says the "everybody else has one" excuse won't work.

"Law enforcement must be able to see all of the plate clearly," he said.

8 On Your Side asked Gaskins to check out photos of plates from around the area. Even some of News Channel 8 vehicles had illegal brackets. A quick drop by Tampa City Hall showed every car in the lot had a bad bracket. a

Even Mayor Bob Buckhorn laughed when he learned of the violation. "That's ridiculous," he said.

"I understand if it's blocking the letters or blocking something that would impede their ability to determine what it is," he said. "But to put a Penn State frame around my license plate? You know, whatever."

Related content:  list of banned license plates

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Spokesman Larry McKinnon said he can't imagine his deputies pulling drivers over for bad plates. But, he admits, they can, and he doesn't doubt that some do.

"Just because you can write a ticket for something doesn't mean you should," he said.

McKinnon said even he has a decorative bracket on his personal car.

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