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  1. #1

    Default Using a Cargo Carrier

    I have been looking into these for my van (Check out the ebay link)

    My question is are these legal to use in all states. It seems to me that having one of these would block the license plate and cause some problems. Anyone have any information on this?

    Chris
    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-15-2009 at 07:27 PM. Reason: Preferred link format

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Yep, Illegal

    Here in Arizona, we have a law that even prohibits license plate holders that cover up the state name, let alone the entire plate. I know of no state that will let you drive down the road without displaying your tag(s), so if this covers up the plates, you will be driving illegally. While that doesn't guarantee that you'll be stopped and ticketed, I don't like the odds.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default modifications

    Since it is covering up the plate, yes, I suspect it would be illegal in many areas.

    However, it does remind me a whole lot of similar box my father made out of plywood and metal that we used on the back of his van for our major roadtrips growing up, except that it was attached to the frame and not a hitch. Since it also covered up the license plate, he simply took the plate off the van and bolted it to the box. Now, I would think you might be able to do something similar here, just attaching the plate to the frame of the cargo holder. I'm not sure if that would work, but it is an idea.

    I will also say that I have a similar hitch mounted bike rack that I use, and I've never run into any problems using that - although that certainly obstructs the plate a lot less than a cargo box.

    I've always been curious about the legalities of these sorts of things. Here in Wisconsin, you don't need a license plate at all for a small trailer - and a trailer certainly blocks the view of your main plate. Since these accessories are connected to the hitch, do they qualify as trailers, or are they part of the main car? Probably something that is different state by state, but its nothing I've got a good answer for.

    It might be worthwhile to write the the manufacturer of such a product and see what their opinion is on the legality of such things. I doubt they'll tell you that it is illegal, but it would be interesting to hear their take on their own products.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default I don't think it is illegal!

    There are plenty of "approved" product obstacles that block the the license plate mounting location. But that's not the issue -- as the driver you simply remove the license plate and display it in the right rear section of the rear window. No worries.

    mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Well, One Worry

    Most states require that the license plate be illuminated at night, so just placing it in the window or bolting it to the box or frame will not work after dark. Take it form someone who has been through Driver's (re-)Education more often than he cares to admit.

    AZBuck

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    To be safe, you need to relocate the plate somewhere where it's not obstructed, and also install a plate light in that location. You should be able to find some kind of frame that has an integral light, just tap the feed into the existing harness somewhere. You could probably use your existing trailer plug and make a pigtail.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Oh, yeah.... it's dark at night

    AZBuck,

    Good reminder -- yeah, like GLC suggests, it does need to be lit at night....

    Mark

  8. #8

    Default Statutes vs. enforcement

    A brother-in-law of mine, nearing the 30 year mark in highway patrol law enforcement, and having commanded entire segments of his large home state, puts it this way: "Legislators can pass all the new laws they want to, but until the troopers on the road "buy into it" enforcement will lag, as troopers are reluctant to write chicken-little tickets". Look at the volume of seat-belt or cellphone use tickets written on a stand-alone basis (not in conjunction with other citations). It's practically nil.

    I would be completely unconcerned about citation for a hitch-hauler covering a license plate. Not so for taillights/brake lights/turn signals, of course. Keeping the balance of your traveling situation squared away is likely the way for this not to be an issue with all but the most zealous of rookie police officers.

    Foy

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    Just guessing - if your state has front plates, you would be less likely to be stopped with an obstructed rear plate. If I were a cop and couldn't see *any* plate on the vehicle, I might get a bit curious.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default It's a matter of timing and fortune

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    I know of no state that will let you drive down the road without displaying your tag(s),
    The lack of a license plate might encourage a peace officer to take a better look -- but in most states, you can see hundreds of cars on a given day with no visible plate in the rear -- this usually occurs as the result of recent sale -- and drivers are required to put some version of the temporary plate in the right rear window, but I can tell you that there is no standardization for the from and sometimes it can be very hard to see the temporary "plate". As long as one has a valid registration and doesn't mind a little extra scrutiny and the probability of some conversations with police officers, I wouldn't be that concerned....

    Mark

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