Following a traffic stop for a missing front license plate that resulted in the fatal shooting of a Cincinnati motorist last year, State Senator Cecil Thomas from Cincinnati introduced a license plate law aimed at eliminating such stops. Senate Bill 202 proposes to change the failure to display a valid front license plate to a secondary traffic offense with a maximum fine of only $25. Several bills have been introduced in the Ohio Legislature during its current term seeking to change the license plate law, and with Senate Bill 202 having its first committee hearing this month, the likelihood of a change to Ohio’s license plate law appears to be increasing.
How the Change to a Secondary Traffic Offense Would Impact Ohio Drivers
Traffic violations in Ohio are categorized as primary offenses and secondary offenses. A primary traffic offense is an infraction that would give a police officer grounds to conduct a traffic stop. Speeding or running a stop sign are examples of primary traffic offenses. Currently, the failure to display a valid front license plate is considered a primary traffic offense and a police officer is able to pull you over for missing a front license plate even if you are driving your vehicle flawlessly.
If Senate Bill 202 becomes law and changes the failure to display a front license plate to a secondary offense, it could no longer be used as a reason to pull you over. It would still be possible to get a ticket for failing to display a valid front license plate, but it could only happen if you were pulled over for another reason. Additionally, the maximum fine would drop from $150 down to $25.
The New License Plate Law Could Protect Individual Privacy
Primary traffic offenses are powerful law enforcement tools, as conducting a traffic stop based off the primary traffic offense could allow the police officer to investigate you and your vehicle. In his testimony in favor of Senate Bill 202, Senator Thomas acknowledged that some police officers “engage in profiling by using minor equipment violations as a pretext for other investigatory stops.” Eliminating the failure to display a valid front license plate as a primary traffic offense would help to reduce such pretextual stops.
How a Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
When you’re pulled over for a traffic stop, you could face penalties not only for the primary traffic offense but also for possible criminal offenses based on an investigation the police officer conducts in relation to the stop. If you feel that your traffic stop was unwarranted or that you were being unfairly targeted, you will want an experienced and aggressive Cincinnati traffic attorney who will fight for your rights.
Attorney Brad Groene at Luftman, Heck & Associates is a Cincinnati criminal defense lawyer who has represented hundreds of clients over the years on a wide range of charges and has worked hard to provide his clients with the best possible defense in every situation. Contact Luftman, Heck & Associates to get the help that you need. Call (513) 338-1890 to set up a free and confidential consultation.