Can you be fined for having a dirty number plate?

Dirty Number Plate
Dirty Number Plate

Most drivers are probably guilty of leaving it a bit too long between car washes, and if you think your car might be overdue for a wash, this might just kick you into gear.

Drivers who fail to wash their cars properly could be hit with a staggering fine of up to $469 and lose three demerit points if their licence plates aren’t displayed clearly and cleanly. The Facebook Post by NSW Police has advised that ‘not washing your car properly,’ by ‘neglecting’ cleaning the licence plate could end up costing you.

According to the Roads and Maritime Services, all vehicles registered in NSW must have official number plates and these must be permanently fitted to vehicles in an upright position and parallel to the vehicle’s axles. It also must not be fitted more than 1.3 metres above ground level. The specific legislation around this, can be found in section 25 of the Road Transport Act.    

Number plate covers must be clear, clean, untinted and flat over the entire surface and have no reflective or other characteristics that would prevent the successful operation of traffic offence detection devices. It’s important to note that this also applies for motorcycles and trailers.

While the laws and penalties vary in each state, it seems Sydney-siders have the harsher end of the stick. In South Australia, fines for number plate offences range from $496 for an obscured plate to $696 for one altered or defaced. Driver’s in Western Australia risk a $1000 fine for obscured plates, following a major crackdown in 2014.

The punishment is a little less severe in Victoria, where drivers can be hit with a $110 on the spot fine and three demerit points. While Tasmanian motorists won’t lose any demerit points for an ineligible number plate, they can be slapped with a $163 fine. The fine for an obscured number plate in Queensland is $341, but no demerit points.

The moral of the story? Make sure you pay close attention to your licence plates the next time you’re washing your car.

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