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Obscuring license plate from camera is a no-no

In the news lately, there are stories about a spray product that keeps a license plate from being photographed clearly. What is the law in Oregon concerning this spray? I know you cannot block the license plate from being read, which this spray doesn't do. It is clear, making your plate readable, just not photogenic. - Maria G.

Maria, I had my own opinion on this matter, but since the photo red light and photo radar van are Medford city projects, I thought I'd ask Lt. Bob Hansen at Medford Police Department, since he was integral to getting those set up and may have had this happen already.

I didn't send him my thoughts, but I just forwarded your question to see what he'd say without my opinion influencing his. I was happy to read his reply and learn that great minds think alike. He wrote:

"First of all, there are a lot of manufacturers that say they have a product that makes it difficult or impossible for cameras to photograph license plates. I don't know if their claims are true, but why would someone use these products unless they intended on violating the law? There is no other purpose. Just like I have not heard yet a valid reason for the use of a radar detector, but for the purpose of breaking the law.

"As to the legality of using such products: ORS 803.550 (Illegal Alteration or Display of Plates) makes it illegal to own, operate, or permit a vehicle to display license plates that have been altered, modified, covered or obscured including, but not limited to ... any material or covering, other than a frame or plate holder, placed on, over or in front of the plate that alters the appearance of the plate. ... thus it is illegal to put anything over the front of the plate that would keep it from being read, whether by a person or a camera."

Thanks to Lt. Hansen for the answer. So, in summary, I believe if you apply this spray, then you're adding a material to the plate that alters the appearance of the plate, albeit to a camera. If it's shown that you did, then you would get cited under the statute cited above, which has a bail of $242, which just happens to be the same bail as the red-light camera citation people are trying to avoid. Hope this helps, Maria