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In case you didn’t know, license-plate covers are illegal

Because, well, your plates need to be visible

We didn't even need software to cover the plate in this photo. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

The Land Transportation Office may have been boasting about its newfound ability to produce license plates, but it hasn’t solved the ongoing issue of unauthorized tags being used on vehicles. Going back to the hit-and-run incident in Mandaluyong where a security guard was run over by a Toyota RAV4, one could only imagine how much harder the investigation would be had the crossover been fitted with plates that read, “MARUPOK.”

But it seems like there’s another problem hounding the humble license plate in the Philippines. The use of tinted covers that partially or completely obscure them is increasing. And authorities continue to turn a blind eye on this issue, allowing errant motorists to get away from their violations undetected.

Common sense will already show reason why these covers shouldn’t be anywhere near license plates. But since brain power is in short supply in this country these days, allow me to do the explaining. Covers simply decrease the ability of the authorities and other road users to read license plates, making it difficult or impossible to track the vehicle and get its registration details.

For anyone avoiding accountability for violations and accidents, this is exactly what they want. This is one of the Achilles’ heels of the high-tech contactless-apprehension systems employed these days. Basically, if you want to get away with murder, this is one way to do it. And if you have evaded the authorities in such a manner, you’re a massive dickhead that shouldn’t be allowed on the road.

The use of plate covers has legal leverage as well. According to Joint Administrative Order No. 2014-01, accessories that frame the plate and/or impede its visibility are illegal and carry a P5,000 fine.

However, this is a very small price to pay. If you ask me, violators deserve corporal punishment (like how Singapore deals with sex offenders). But if that’s too harsh, consistency in enforcement and jacking up the penalty by 1,000 times is a good way to start.

Miggi Solidum

Professionally speaking, Miggi is a software engineering dude who happens to like cars a lot. And as an automotive enthusiast, he wants a platform from which he can share his motoring thoughts with fellow petrolheads. He pens the column ‘G-Force’.