(We had to add the exclamation point)
So declares Wednesday's Albuquerque Journal (Subscription Required). The first line of the front page top of the fold story reads "[i]t didn't take a red-light camera to catch a Bernalillo County sheriff's deputy breaking the law." Seems that a nefarious Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy has been caught with one of the plate covers that make viewing the license plate underneath difficult for Marty's scam-era system.
So what's the problem? Well, we can't find a law that was broken - if the cover in question was similar to the ones we've seen so much of around Albuquerque. According to the State of New Mexico traffic code:
66-3-14 B. Each registration plate shall have a background of reflective material such that the registration number assigned to the vehicle is plainly legible from a distance of one hundred feet at night. The colors shall include those of the state flag, except prestige and special plates.Or if you prefer:
66-3-18 A. The registration plate shall be attached to the rear of the vehicle for which it is issued; however, the registration plate shall be attached to the front of a road tractor or truck tractor. The plate shall be securely fastened at all times in a fixed horizontal position at a height of not less than twelve inches from the ground, measuring from the bottom of the plate. It shall be in a place and position so as to be clearly visible, and it shall be maintained free from foreign material and in a condition to be clearly legible.Now we're not an attorney, but it looks pretty obvious to us that the New Mexico traffic code doesn't say a thing about protective covers for license plates as long as the registration number is clearly visible from a distance of 150 feet.
A few months back we seem to remember APD spokesman John Walsh claiming that the license plate cover and sprays were ineffective when pitted against the superior technology of Marty's red light scam-eras. Well, well, well... looks like we were being treated to a bit of mis-information from APD's public information officer.
Now they're trying to make us buy that plate covers are illegal. We told you that APD was trying to "crack down" on all of those sinister drivers utilizing the scam-era invisibility shields. In fact they cited section 66-3-18 as the basis of their enforcement. Read the traffic code for yourself... where exactly does it prohibit license plate covers?
(Sidebar)It's obvious that Marty's scam-eras are seeing an awful lot of these plate covers and their use is cutting into revenue. It's also obvious that revenue concerns are now driving law enforcement. So what if we don't even have a law that prohibits the use of the plate covers... we'll just "enforce" the law the way we want to. Who needs legislatures, or even courts for that matter... we've got money to make!
One of our Eye readers emailed us and let us know about APD's "enforcement" effort. They received a ticket (the first we've heard of) from an officer and plans to fight the citation in court. We asked them to let us know how the judge rules.
We hope Sheriff White has the good sense not to discipline the deputy involved, particularly if his license plate was plainly visible from 100 feet at night as is required by law. In fact, we would suggest making the plate covers standard issue for those deputies that spend any time driving through Martyville.