It’s not hard for a police officer to find a legal reason to stop your car. If it isn’t seat belts or crossing over the center line or an actual moving violation, an officer may stop you because your license plate isn’t proper displayed.

The Illinois Vehicle Code requires every registration plate to be securely and horizontally fastened not less than five inches from the ground so as to prevent the plate from swinging. Further, the plate must be maintained in a clearly legible condition, free from any materials that would obstruct its visibility. A registration plate on a motorcycle may be mounted vertically as long as it is otherwise clearly visible. Registration stickers must also be clearly visible at all times. 625 ILCS 5/3-413(b).

A prior law barred covering the license plate even with only clear plastic. A recent Illinois court decision upheld a defendant’s aggravated DUI conviction because the court held that the stop was legal under the prior law.

At least one court decision, however, has sided with the defendant under the current license display law. In People v Flores, an officer stopped a defendant because he believed the defendant’s license plate frame was illegal. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that Mr. Flores’s car dealer-type license plate frame did not violate the law. As a result, the court overturned the defendant’s conviction.

If you are charged with DUI or other offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney may review your case for your best possible defense. If the police acted improperly, the attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence from any search. Even if this is not possible and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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