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In Oregon, there are specific rules for how license plates are displayed. Officers routinely stop drivers for violating these rules.

A Lake Oswego police officer or firefighter answers readers' questions each week in this space. To submit a question, call Editor Patrick Malee at 503-479-2379 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Many folks enjoy customizing their personal vehicles in order to reflect their own style, and those style changes can often translate to mundane vehicular items like license plates. There are the diehard sports fans, proud parents, school alumni, meme-inspired jokesters and many more folks who all look for ways to add a bit of flair by adding a custom license plate frame or plate cover to their vehicle license plates.SIMON

But in Oregon, there are specific rules for how license plates are displayed. Many of the prohibited manners of display fall under Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 803.550 - Illegal alteration or display of plates; a class B traffic violation.

This statute essentially states it is illegal to alter, modify, cover or obscure the parts of the plate related to the color of the plate, its configuration, its numbers or letters, the material of the plate or the registration stickers. So if a driver has a plate frame or plate cover that does any of these things to any part of their license plates, the driver could be in violation of this statute.

If drivers want to use a custom frame to hold their license plates to their vehicles, we recommend the frame not interfere (cover or intrude) at all with the letters and numbers of the frame, as well as the registration stickers.

Officers routinely stop drivers for this offense, and we find many folks are often unaware of the law. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, drivers may be given a warning with advice on how to correct the issue, or a fix-it citation that requires the issue be resolved before a court date.

— Lt. Clayton Simon


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