Legal i

Number plate display

On a recent drive to Wales, I noticed a motorcyclist overtake me with the rear number plate on his sports bike flipped up so it was facing the sky. Surely this is illegal? Is it possible that some unscrupulous bikers have resorted to fitting mechanical devices to hide their identity during ëfast blastsí, and therefore making them invisible to speed cameras?


A  There are quite detailed regulations governing the exhibition, position, lighting and content of registration marks. All vehicles other than works trucks, road rollers and agricultural machines, registered on or after 1st October 1938, must have a registration plate fixed to the rear and front of the vehicle. Even those registered before 1st October 1938 require registration plates, but the precise placing is less prescriptive than for the mainstream. The same applies to works trucks, road rollers and agricultural machines.


Sizing of the registration plates is also prescribed by regulations, and the material of the plate must not make it difficult to photograph and neither must the method of fixing the plate to the vehicle be such as to change the appearance or legibility of the registration mark, or to adversely affect any photographic image. This is the regulation that would catch out the motor cyclist mentioned.


The offence does not carry penalty points and is punishable by a fine, but where someone has fixed a mechanical device to flip the plate, as you suspect in this case, it is just possible that a prosecutor with the bit between his teeth could attempt to bring a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, although it is doubtful that such a charge could be upheld.


Designed by solicitors, tested by barristers and available around the clock, Road Traffic Representation is an online legal system that allows people accused of a motoring offence to get free advice on how the law will be applied in their case, and referral to a telephone helpline and representation by a barrister in court if required. Practising solicitor Martin Langan spent two years designing the system and creating the data repository which allows the software to analyse road traffic offences with the same authority as a solicitor.

Twitter: martinlangan

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