The danger of dirt: why a mucky car could mean a £1,000 fine

  • Obscured number plates are an offence
  • Potential fines of up to £1,000
  • Could hamper efforts to return a stolen car

Having a grubby car may seem like a mild inconvenience, yet it could land you a fine of up to £1,000 if the muck is obscuring your number plate.

Picture the scene; you’ve just been pulled over by the police on your way back from work on a Friday evening. You weren’t speeding and you know your car is fully taxed and insured, so what could be the problem?

The police officer explains that your rear registration plate is caked in dirt and therefore incorrectly displayed. The fixed penalty is £100.

It seems unlikely to happen to you, but driving around with an incorrectly displayed number plate can incur a hefty fine while also having potential consequences should your car be stolen.

Although usually dealt with by way of a £100 fixed-penalty notice, fines can be as much as £1,000 in the most serious cases.

Such penalties would likely be reserved for motorists who the police believe have deliberately obscured their number plate, yet it’s still safer to keep an eye on how clearly the letters are displayed.

A police spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said:

‘Road safety is a priority, and we would urge all motorists to ensure vehicle registration plates are correctly displayed and visible at all times. Incorrectly displayed number plates can incur a £1,000 fine and your car will fail its MOT test.’

Grubby number plates can also reduce the chance of Police ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) cameras being able to read a vehicle’s registration.

This means that if your car is stolen, the police may have a hard time tracking it down owing to an unreadable registration plate. 

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