There are certain rules that apply to vehicle registration plates for cars and commercial vehicles, and failure to comply can lead to heavy fines of up to £1,000. Any motorist who drives with a dirty number or trade plate, where the registration is not clearly visible is liable to be stopped and fined by the police; this includes snow covered plates. It only takes a second to check, so have a quick look to ensure your plates are clean before setting off.
You can’t rearrange numbers or letters on a vehicle registration plate as you will be breaking the law, your vehicle could also fail its MOT and potentially the insurance policy could be invalidated if incorrectly displayed. Deliberately tampering with a licence plate might even incur a prison sentence.
Number Plate Rules
Different rules apply to motorcycles than to new and used cars, however, the fines are just as severe. It is compulsory for licence plates to be displayed at the rear of the motorcycle, in the two-line format if they were registered after September 1st 2001; a plate at the front is not essential. It is illegal to display a one-line plate on any motorcycle, regardless of when it was registered, and to do so could affect your insurance policy.
Regarding visibility, the same rules apply as with all other types of vehicles and failure to ensure that the plate is easy to read could lead to a fine up to £1,000. If your number plate is unreadable, police speed cameras can sometimes trigger a spot check, which in turn alerts the traffic police who can then choose to pull you over. These days, prosecution is much more likely, so far better to ensure that your number plate is fully compliant
Trade Plate Rules
The motor trade may use a trade plate on vehicles that are temporarily in their possession whilst carrying out their business. There is a fine of up to £5,000, together with a possible maximum two-year prison sentence for unlawfully using or altering trade plates. There is a maximum fine of £1,000, or five times the chargeable rate of duty, whichever is the higher, for using a trade licence for any purpose that is not permitted in the regulations.
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You will also be fined for making a misleading or false application, fraudulent use of trade plates and allowing them to be used by any unauthorised person. To avoid a fine, the trade plate must be clearly visible on the exterior of the vehicle, they must not cover existing plates with the exception of motorcycles, and it is an offence to misuse, deface, damage or alter them.
Whether you are in the motor trade or a private motorist, be sure to keep up to date with the current number plate legislation as fines are something we can all do without.