June 8, 2023

Your Car Is Illegal

While playing Mario Kart Wii with a cop friend of mine the other day we started getting into a discussion of the legalities and illegalities of automobiles. Don’t ask how, but it had something to do with him petitioning to get Waluigi disqualified from the race.

Did you know that the vehicle you’re driving right now is most likely illegal. In fact, most cars drive off of the dealership lot already in violation of the law.

In Michigan (and at least 20 other states that he knows of) it’s illegal to place advertising on or around the license plate. That means the little frame with the dealership name on it is reason enough for a cop to pull you over and write you a ticket. It’s also illegal to cover up any part of the plate with writing on it. This means that all the nice new Ford and GMC SUVs that have steps in the back are in violation – as the step on most of these cars covers up part of the word Michigan on the plate.

Clear covers that go over the plate? Also illegal. The same goes for those lights that go on around or near it.

My friend said he’d never stop anybody for this, which then raised the ethical question of “doing your job and following the law to the letter” but that’s another discussion.

Has anybody ever seen anybody stopped for one of these infractions? And if somebody is, how long until there’s a class action suit against all the dealerships who illegally modify cars on their lot?

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com


  1. I’ve never seen anyone pulled over for having an advertisement around their license plate. Interesting that it’s illegal, though.

    I removed mine just because I don’t like feeling like a giant mobile billboard for the dealer I bought my car from.