There are a number of seemingly innocuous actions that can lead to a traffic stop. A crack in your windshield, window tint that is a shade too dark, and failing to dim your high beams, to name a few. Now you can add a trailer hitch to the list that will likely continue to grow in perpetuity. A Florida District Court of Appeal recently held that a trailer hitch could constitute "other obscuring matter" and would violate Fl. Stat. §316.605 if the license plate was not "plainly visible and legible" from 100 feet away. Other Florida appellate courts disagree and consider "matters external to the tag, such as trailer hitches, bicycle racks, handicap chairs, u-hauls" are not prohibited by the law even if they obscure the tag. If you think this interpretation is absurd, you can thank the Florida Legislature, which the court concluded has a "legitimate public-safety interest in ensuring that license tags remain unobstructed." If you'd like to read the opinion, click here.
So cyclists, boat owners, and the disabled beware! Don't obstruct your tag or you may be endangering the public!