Anti "photo-enforced" intersection license plate covers?

Here in San Diego, more and more intersections are “photo-enforced” with cameras that snap a picture of you and your car when you are in the intersection as the light turns red.

The idea (that I agree with) is to stop people from running red lights. What I do not like is getting nailed by these things because the rear end of your car hangs into the intersection a few feet in gridlock.

So the other day, I’m reading Car and Driver, and in the back are license plate covers that are polarized so that the photo cameras get an unclear image of your plates and you supposedly can’t get nailed. Supposedly though, when viewed from straight on, they are clear so that a cop doesn’t know you have them.

My question is: Do they work (anyone out there have them?)

And for that matter, I see ads next to it for a radar jammer. Same question… If the cop gets a blank signal on his gun, won’t he de facto pull me over for ‘excessive speed’ and check to see if I have one of these illegal devices?

He would need probable cause to search your car for the jammer, and I would say no to him, were I you. I didn’t think jammers could even be sold and/or shipped since they are illegal, but I will confess that I don’t keep abreast of the latest law-breaking technology.

With regard to the polarizing screens, that’s actually a good idea, and one I came up with (along with every other amateur photographer in the country) a few months ago when DC started putting up the cameras on major intersections. We have probably all seen the lens covers on some traffic signals that obscures the signal light to all but direct onlookers (so adjacent traffic can’t accidentally mistake the signal as being for them). This is all that would be needed.

I don’t think that “grid-locked” excuse will hold any water because (at least in DC) the cameras actually take two pictures within about a half second so they can judge your approximate speed. If you have moved much between the first & second picture, you obviously weren’t stuck behind some slow-moving vehicle and therefore you need a citation. If, on the other hand, you don’t move between the two pictures, then you entered the intersection when it wasn’t clear to pass fully through, in which case you get a ticket for inciting grid-lock.

Just behave yourself & drive right, okay?

I gotta say, you should get a ticket for gridlock. It drive me nuts when people block and intersection just because they were trying to creep up past the light. If there is no room to pull forward when you reach the intersection, you must stop at the white line and wit until there is room. If the light changes, tough.

How about this: obey traffic laws and you wont need to conceal your plate.

In New York State any covering whatsoever is prohibited over your license plate, even if it is or appears to be clear. Not many people get pulled over solely for this (I see plenty of them on the road) but if you get pulled over for any other reason, and the cop wants to, well, here’s another ticket, son. It may even lead to points on your license, but that I’m not sure of.

Here are some
Car & Driver articles you might find useful. Years ago, they rated the license plate covers you mentioned, and I think there’s an update in one of the articles.

They also rate some of the jammers: none of them will jam all radar, and some of them won’t jam any radar. They’re expensive, and their legality is questionable. Not recommended, IMO.

You do have options against lidar, though. Your best defense is to have a vehicle with curved front end (like a Firebird or Miata) and no license plate.

“If you’re so pro-life, do me a favor: don’t block medical clinics, lock arms and block cemeteries.” – Bill Hicks

Eh, sonny, in the good ole days, I hear they were called “mudrunners” fir covering their plates in mud to run 'shine out of Alabam!

You polarized kids got it too easy today! :wink:

Years back, I lived in a State where radar detectors were legal and came zipping along a highway, just as a State Trooper popped out in front of me. Well, I kind of ran up his rear a bit in surprise and those troopers have radar guns in both the front and rear of their cars. I had this cheap little radar detector hanging from the sunshade and he gave me a full blast of his rear gun that lit the thing up and nearly blew it out! I cut it off just in time! The cops like to spot us drivers with those things dangling from the windshields because, the cheap ones, if given a blast of radar at close range, would burn out!

In at least one state, they are illegal. Get caught with them and get a stiff fine. Some people hid them in the grills in the front of their cars.

The way I look at it, if you’re doing something illegal, then you tale your chances and I don’t think it should be legal to sell items enabling you to break the law. Plus, I don’t have a problem with public cameras all over the place because someday, they might spot something happening to me and send help just in time. Besides, if you ain’t breaking the law, you ain’t got to be afraid of them.

Aren’t front plates mandatory, though?

Depends on the state. They are here in Texas, but when traveling out of state, I take off my front plate at the very first rest area (or gas stop) past the Texas state line. At last count, they’re not required in 19 states, including Arizona, Arkansas, and Michigan.

Also in Texas (and I think in New York), annual vehicle registration comes in the form of a decal placed in the lower left corner of the front windshield. Why even have more expensive plates, then? It’s a flat surface that reflects radar and lidar, that’s why.

Radar detection and radar jamming devices remain illegal in CA, last I looked. But, then again, CA has some pretty restrictive rules about radar use by officers; frankly, if you can’t spot the CHP officer ahead of you aiming the gun at you, and you’re more than 6-7 mph over the limit, you deserve to get nailed. :wink:

But, CA doesn’t require front plates, though they give them to you.

And DON’T get me started about photo-tickets. I’ll just say that almost no conviction can be made from a photo alone constitutionally. :slight_smile:

Plus, there’s that whole thing about having identification of the vehicle posted visibly.
Kinda hard to check out a 2 in sticker in the corner of the windshield from 100 ft away.

Better yet I’ll let out a secret I learned here in town when I fought a red light ticket; Lockheed Martin actually issues the ticket, and the state enforces it. Lockheed Martin employees decide whether or not, you violated the law. :slight_smile:

Fight any and all “red light” tickets, I’ve gotten out of 2. One for being “forced” through a light by an ambulance, in which the ambulance was even in the picture too!!! and another for having my front tires2 feet over the limit line.

2 for 2 on beating that crappy ticket. The plate blurring screens though dont work 100%, more like 10% of the time, and if you are caught with one they say its the same as “evading arrest” and carries heavy fines.

SO check into it. We found these lights out there in Pacific Beach and near Coronado. But the ones in PB are heavily monitored.


Radar detectors are illegal in Connecticut.

Ah, radar detectors…a subject near and dear to my heart. If you live in a state that hasn’t outlawed detectors, get yourself a Valentine One. Expensive, but the best detector on the market. Mine’s permanently mounted high on my windshiels and wired to turn on with my ignition. Never drive without it.

The only company I know of offhand that makes behind-the-grill detectors is K40. They can even integrate the lights into your dash, making it almost completely visually undetectable.

Websites for both products:

The March issue of Popular mechanics has a short article (really just a blurb) on a British inventor that has patented an anti-photo enforcement device.
It detects the infra-red flash of the enforcement camera and activates a high powered flash directed at the license plate, so when the film is developed, the plate is overexposed and cannot be read.
It is being marketed as a “safety enhancement accessory” or some such.
(pg 16 I think. don’t have it here)


Depends somewhat where you live, but I’d never bet on that.


What would a “Deep Thinker” from Ohio, especially one who attaches ‘Esq’ to his name and would like to think we think he is an attorney, know about CA.US license-plate laws? Check it out:

SECTION 5200-5206

  1. When two license plates are issued by the department for a
    vehicle, they shall be attached to the vehicle for which they were
    issued, one in the front and the other in the rear. When one license
    plate is issued for use upon a vehicle, it shall be attached to the
    rear thereof.

All 4-wheeled-or-more on-road motor vehicles that I know of are required to have license plates on the front in CA.US.

And lawyers and pseudo-lawyers, who say the above, kill.


Federal law says that one may receive radio signals on any frequency.

Cameras all over the place SUCKS ASS and those that are willing to give up liberty for some temporary safety deserve neither.

It is nice to know however, that those assholes that block intersections and don’t believe traffic laws apply to them are getting busted (except for the speed limit :wink: )

I agree. You’re supposed to be presumed innocent, remember. All that photo proves is that someone driving your car did this. Unless a real cop witnesses the crime and issues me the ticket I say it’s meaningless!

I for one welcome our new insect overlords… - K. Brockman

Hey Doug - we finally agree on something associated with traffic laws! Cool.

I would assume that problems with these sorts of citattion have something to do with 6th Amendment and confronting witnesses? Can you expound a little more on your answer? I’m curious.