Different Reasons Your License Plate Can Get You A Ticket In Iowa
I was driving down a road by my house the other day when I noticed something a bit strange involving another vehicle's license plate. It wasn't the design of the plate that caught my attention and it also wasn't what the license plate said either. I found it pretty interesting that the license plate was facing vertically. I don't believe this was done intentionally and I'd guess the driver was just missing a screw to hold the plate in place. Naturally, I asked myself the question "I wonder if you can get a ticket for that?"
It's pretty interesting how seriously certain states take their license plates. Whether it be how they're mounted, how much they cost, or how far they are from the ground. I've never really thought about getting a ticket for my license plate, other than when I need to get new tabs. It turns out your plate can get you a ticket in a few different ways.
Legis Iowa, Code 321.38 breaks down how exactly your license plate needs to be mounted.
Every registration plate shall at all times be securely fastened in a horizontal position to the vehicle for which it is issued so as to prevent the plate from swinging and at a height of not less than twelve inches from the ground, measuring from the bottom of the plate, 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. An imitation plate or plates imitating or purporting to imitate the official registration plate of any other state or territory of the United States or of any foreign government shall not be fastened to the vehicle.
Some of these reasons are fairly obvious such as not having imitation plates, and making sure they are clearly visible and clearly legible. Those make sense and it's understandable why they could get you a ticket but I would've never guessed your plate height was such a big deal.
If your license plate is 11.99 inches off the ground, technically, this could get you a ticket. If you've ever considered lowing your suspension to have your vehicle sitting closer to the ground, you might want to double-check check your license plate is sitting high enough. You don't want to deal with constantly being pulled over to have this checked.
Code 321.38 also answers the question of having a plate in a verticle position. Your plate needs to be securely fashioned in a horizontal position. I know that seems fairly obvious but I was curious if you have a verticle plate if you'd be in violation. Not surprisingly, yes you would be.
According to Legis Iowa, "the scheduled fine for a violation of improper display of registration plates is $30." I'm curious if your plate is improperly displayed and it is a legitimate accident like you lost a screw holding it in place while driving down the road, would a police officer would really give you a ticket or would they just tell you to get it fixed.
If an officer happens to pull you over multiple times for not correcting your license plate display, then sure, they're probably giving you a ticket. If you're a first-time offender, I could see them sending you on your way and giving you a warning. Better be safe than sorry.