Fine for obscured number plate offences doubled

Drivers who deliberately fail to display their number plates correctly will face stiffer penalties from next February.

The increasing use of number place recognition systems by police forces has meant that drivers behind the wheels of uninsured, untaxed or vehicles without valid MoT certificates can expect to be pulled over even if they are not seen committing a driving infringement.

Consequently the incentive to disguise, obscure or otherwise fail to display their number plates has increased for those with good reason not to have their vehicle identified. The fine for the offence has been doubled to £60 with the higher penalty coming into effect in February.

Under the new legislation the drivers of foreign registered vehicles who have hitherto been able to avoid prosecution will be subject to £60 on-the-spot penalties for offences such as not wearing seat belts.

Transport minister Mike Penning, claims the new penalties will ensure the law is enforced “fairly and proportionately”.

He said: “Vehicles without a registration plate or with the plate obscured help law-breakers to avoid detection, so it is important that proportionate penalties are in place to deter offenders. Updating the legislation today will make sure the penalties for all registration plate offences are consistent.”

Of course while the increasing use of automated number plate recognition systems can help catch offenders who might otherwise go unnoticed, the new legislation could be seen as a tacit admission that such systems can easily be thwarted by a strategically-positioned tow bar, muddied plate or loose piece of trim.