Lacking front license plates is cruising for a ticket
By Frank Abderholden AND DAN MORAN Staff writers January 10, 2013 7:28PM
A vehicle without a front license plate parked in a lot along Washington Street in Waukegan. The Waukegan Police Transportation Division has increased enforcement for license plates violators. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 12, 2013 6:12AM
WAUKEGAN — City residents who do not have a front license plate on their vehicle or have not maintained the rear license plate light will find themselves facing citations as police crack down on the practice to help with criminal investigations.
“With the ever-increasing use of video surveillance throughout the city and country, both public and private, it is important that a vehicle’s registration be both in place and visible,” said Lt. Edward Fitzgerald, traffic division commander for the Waukegan Police Department, announcing increased enforcement of license-plate violations.
Police will begin their increased enforcement efforts Feb. 4.
The warning was issued in the wake of two complaints before the City Council in the past three weeks from Brotha Chris Blanks, founding president of the National Action Network of Lake County and the Black Abolition Movement for the Mind. Blanks accused Waukegan police of selective enforcement in writing citations for not having a front plate, saying he was representing a resident who was issued a ticket in late November.
Alleging that at least one city official didn’t have a front plate on his vehicle, Blanks accused police at the Dec. 17 council meeting of “not being fair across the board. ... You guys got to end this.” At Monday’s City Council meeting, Blanks added that he has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to review citations issued for failure to display a front plate.
“We do want to find out who has been issuing tickets and who they’ve been issued to,” said Blanks. “We want to make sure everyone is being treated fairly.”
Mayor Robert Sabonjian told Blanks that he spoke with Police Chief Daniel Greathouse about focusing on the issue, saying “we want people in Waukegan to know that this is being enforced equally.” Sabonjian added that the policy will be enforced regardless of a vehicle’s design, saying that front plates should be mounted no matter how a bumper is constructed.
Fitzgerald said while police were conducting investigations of various crimes in recent weeks they found video footage and witness identification played key roles in the investigation. While reviewing some of these videos and witness statements, it was discovered the investigation could have come to a quicker resolution if certain vehicles had a front license plate, a rear registration plate light illuminating the license plate, or if the plate had not been obstructed by a cover.
“Based on this determination, the department has announced plans to increase enforcement efforts on motor vehicle equipment violations, with particular emphasis on no front license plate, no rear registration plate light, and license plate cover violations,” said Fitzgerald.
According to state law (Illinois state statute [625-ILCS-5/3-413] ), license plates issued for a motor vehicle other than a motorcycle, trailer, semitrailer, truck-tractor, apportioned bus, or apportioned truck shall be attached to the front and rear of the vehicle.
License plates must also be displayed in a horizontal position, and at least five inches from the pavement, and cannot be covered by any type of license plate cover, tinted or not.
State law also requires that the rear license plate must be illuminated with a white light, making the license plate clearly visible from a distance of 50 feet.
They are encouraging anyone with motor vehicle equipment violations to correct the matter as soon as possible to avoid being cited.
The penalty for a violation ranges from a fine of $35 for a local ordinance ticket to $120 if written as a state statute violation.