An Iowa Supreme Court May 2, 2014 decision may affect Iowa Automotive dealers and their customers. Many dealerships promote their business through the use of plate frames. The Iowa Supreme Court has put a small hiccup in the use of plate frames for dealerships and all Iowans.

Under Iowa Code 321.37(3), “It is unlawful for the owner of a vehicle to place any frame around or over the registration plate which does not permit full view of all numerals and letters printed on the registration plate.” The Court determined that “all numerals and letters” includes the county information on the bottom of Iowa plates. Based on that decision, police can stop a vehicle and issue citations for any license plate in which numerals or letters are covered or partially covered. This decision may give police “probable cause” to stop a vehicle without evidence of other violations.

Arenson Law Group, PC, urges dealerships to look at your advertising plate frames. Don’t be the reason that your customer gets stopped. The dissenting Iowa Supreme Court Justice, Justice Appel, warned: “For the thousands of Iowans who have a frame that promotes a sports team, or an auto dealer, or have a nice (or not so nice) slogan, beware!”

Written by James H. Arenson

Last Updated : February 13, 2024