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THE VALLEY

Police Target Cars Without Front Plates

Enforcement: Many drivers are getting away with running red lights because cameras don't detect license numbers.

June 06, 2001|NOAKI SCHWARTZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Traffic police caught 202 drivers without front license plates on their cars Tuesday during a morning crackdown at Laurel Canyon and Victory boulevards, authorities said.

The Los Angeles Police Department conducted the three-hour stakeout because too many people without front license plates have been getting away with running red lights, said Sgt. Dale Turner of the LAPD's Valley Traffic Division.

Cameras mounted at intersections throughout the city to catch red-light violators are designed to take photographs of a car's front license plate and the driver's face, but up to 25% of violators caught on film are whizzing away unticketed because the front plate is missing, Turner said.

Apparently, drivers are shunning front license plates for aesthetic reasons.

"One of the biggest excuses we get is that 'It doesn't look good on my sports car,' " Turner said.

Turner said car dealerships are partly responsible for the problem because front license plate holders are often placed in the trunk with the spare tire, and new-car buyers do not install them later, he said.

Authorities are considering pushing the Legislature to impose stiffer fines for motorists who do not display front license plates.

"The fine is under $20," Turner said. "A lot of people I'm sure feel that they'd rather pay the fine than put a license plate on and get a $271 [red-light violation] ticket."

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