This year, I received a lot of questions pertaining to motor vehicles. Eddie Tomlinson asked me if I would write a letter to the editor with the questions and answers. Here are a few just for you, Mr. Tomlinson.
Q. Is it legal for a car tag frame to cover up the state and county on the tag? Some frames have plastic coverings that make the plate harder to see. Is this legal?
A. No to both questions. The county decal and state information on the plate is information that cannot be concealed since it shows that a vehicle is validly registered in Tennessee. Also, state law requires the whole license plate be “clearly visible.”
The law says, “Every registration plate shall at all times be securely fastened in a horizontal position to the vehicle for which it is issued...in a place and position to be clearly visible and shall be maintained free from foreign materials and in a condition to be clearly legible...No tinted materials may be placed over a license plate even if the information upon the license plate is not concealed.”
If the county sticker and state information is covered by the decorative frame, it does not meet the “clearly visible” part of the law requirement.
Q. How long may someone drive with a paper temporary plate in his or her car window? Someone I know has been using one for a year. Is that legal?
A. No. One year is much too long. Temporary tags issued by car dealers expire in three days. State law says, “The dealer may further authorize the operation of the vehicle bearing such plates by customers for temporary purposes not to exceed 72 hours.”
The Tennessee Department of Revenue can issue a temporary tag for a maximum of 60 days in those instances where a dealer temporary tag cannot be issued. These plates allow owners a 30-day period in which official registration may be obtained for the vehicle. Under this provision, no person may operate a motor vehicle for more than 60 days with a temporary plate.
Q. I’ve seen cars bearing antique license plates that don’t seem to be “antique,” and drivers often drive them for general transportation. Is that legal?
A. The law defines an “antique motor vehicle” as a motor vehicle more than 25 years old with a non-modified engine and body. The antique vehicle may only be used for participation in, or transportation to and from club activities, exhibits, tours, parades and similar uses as a collector’s item or used on the highways for the purpose of selling, testing the operation of or obtaining repairs to or maintenance on such motor vehicle and for general transportation on Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays. Any person violating those provisions or operating an antique motor vehicle for general transportation purposes on a day other than Saturday or Sunday or a federal holiday shall forfeit the antique motor vehicle registration, shall be liable for the regular registration fee for that vehicle and shall be barred from applying for or holding antique motor vehicle registration for five years from the date of the violation.
I’d love to answer other questions. Visit my website at susanlynn.us to email me.
State Rep. Susan Lynn serves District 57 in the state House. Lynn chairs the Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee and is a member of the Finance, Ways and Means Committee and the Ethics Committee.