Driver unwittingly buys illegal license plate cover

06:15 PM Mountain Standard Time on Monday, July 3, 2006

By Gary Harper / 3 On Your Side

Darlene Reed considers herself a pretty good driver.

However, she was recently stopped by a Scottsdale police officer who walked up to her car holding a screwdriver.

"He took it off," Reed said. "He took it off for me. But he said I'm going to be a nice guy and give it back to you."

What the officer took off and gave back to Reed was her license-plate cover.

It's designed to fool photo radar by distorting your license-plate.

Without a complete plate number to photograph, officials are unable to mail you a ticket.

"So I'm thinking, 'You know, it wouldn't hurt to put this on my license plate,'" Reed said.

She bought the plate cover for $49 from a Phoenix company called Angel Enterprises.

In their mass mailings, Angel Enterprises says, "Contrary to what you have heard license plate covers are not illegal in Arizona."

Try telling that to Scottsdale police.

"There are people out there who believe that they are within the law when in fact they are not," said Det. Sam Bailey of the Scottsdale Police Department.

Bailey says license plate covers are, without a doubt, illegal.

But Joe Geremia, owner of Angel Enterprises, disagrees.

"They are not illegal," he said.

Geremia operates his business out of his mobile home and is convinced his product is lawful.

"There is no Arizona revised statute that makes these illegal or prohibits this in any manner," he said.

But what about Arizona revised Statute 28-2354 that states, "A person shall maintain each license plate so it is clearly legible."

Police say the plate covers make license plates illegible. And that's what gives them the right to confiscate the cover or even ticket you.

Reed wishes she knew that before she bought the cover for almost $50.

"I certainly don't have $50 to burn," she said.