Don’t Hinge Your Plates

What does it mean to display something? The term itself seems simple enough. Take a moment to look around right now. Whether you’re in your living room, out in your vehicle or in a public place, there are numerous items in your view. Chances are, those items were strategically displayed to accomplish a very basic task; to show you that they are important to those who placed them there. The same goes for truck and trailer registration.

At home it may be that autographed Dale Earnhardt racing jacket that you waited in line for hours to have signed. You wouldn’t throw a classic piece of racing memorabilia like that in a box in the basement. At the very least, you would frame it and display it on your wall as a conversation piece to ensure that every visitor entering your house would hear about the unforgettable day that you met the legendary “Intimidator.” It’s in our very nature to want to show off the things that mean most to us.

Corporations spend billions of dollars every year in advertising to display items that will help lead their companies to more profit. The simplified theory behind this is that in order for something to seen, whether for financial benefit or to be the envy of your friends, it must be displayed!

Unless, you are in the trucking industry, the regulation of where items can legally be placed generally doesn’t come to mind. The number of items which need to be displayed on trucks and trailers are plentiful. From safety inspection stickers to IFTA decals, there seems to be an endless list of documentation that needs to be “appropriately” displayed.

To add more perplexity to the mix, this list of required items can vary from state to state. These facts, along with countless others, reaffirms that the trucking industry is not for those with shambolic characteristics.

Possibly one of the most important items that is required to be displayed on a truck is registration plates. The fact is the Secretary of State actually owns registration plates and the proper display of these items are VERY important to them. So important, there is an entire section of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/3-413) dedicated to the display of registration plates.

Illinois is a two plate state, meaning that the Secretary of State will issue two steel plates for every vehicle registered. This means that if your straight truck is registered with Illinois base plates (B-Z) it is required to display registration on both the front and rear of the vehicle. For all intents and purposes, the same regulations which apply to passenger vehicle registration plates apply to these types of vehicles.

The two plate rule does have some exemptions as it does not apply to motorcycle, trailer, semi-trailer, truck tractor or apportioned truck plates. While it’s obvious that trailer and semi-trailers would not be required to display two plates, there is often confusion when it comes to truck-tractor and apportioned truck plates. You can read more about this topic HERE.

Once you’ve figured out which end of the vehicle to affix the registration, there is further regulation of how and where the plate must be mounted. The statute requires every plate be securely fastened in a horizontal position and in a manner which prevents it from swinging.

The mounting also needs to be done at a height of no less than 5 inches from the ground which is measured from the ground up to the bottom of the plate. Finally, the plate must be in a place and position that is clearly visible, legible and free of materials which may obstruct it.

The latter part of that statement is obvious. You can’t simply throw a registration plate in the front window of your vehicle, partially blocked by a clutter of paperwork and drive down the road. That much every professional driver knows. What some may not know, is bumper-mounted swinging plate holders are actually quite illegal.

These items allow the plate to swing under the truck while it’s in motion making it nearly impossible for law enforcement to view the vehicle’s registration. While those who enforce the laws may understand the aesthetic and fuel economy benefits of such holders, the fact remains the Illinois Vehicle Code was not written to accommodate this rationale.

The Illinois Secretary of State thinks of your vehicle’s registration as its very own Dale Earnhardt memorabilia. So proudly display your plate, just as the SOS would want it and as the Illinois Vehicle Code requires.  Not all is lost in regulation though, you can continue to feel free and display those photos of your in-laws anywhere you desire within your residence. The State of Illinois doesn’t regulate that – yet.


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