Quick, what's your license plate number? If you're like me, you probably can't recite it off the top of your head. In fact, I don't think I would be going too far out on a limb to say that very few of us spend a lot of thought on the license plates on our vehicles, unless it's time for the vehicle registration to be renewed.

Once we go through that process, we get the new tags, slap them on and then slip back in to license plate oblivion. But you might want to give your license plates a little more consideration, because there is a group of folks out there who are concerned about license plates, and if they see something amiss with your plates, they can pull you over and give you a citation.

For precise and current information, I recommend visiting the official Utah DMV website or contacting the Utah DMV directly. Having said that, here are some common violations that may lead to penalties.

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If your plates are obscured or illegible that may get you a visit. It is illegal to have a license plate that is obstructed, covered, or obscured in any way. This includes frames, covers, or objects that make it difficult to read the characters on the plate.

We've already touched on this but expired plates are a big red flag. Operating a vehicle with expired registration or failing to display a current registration sticker on the rear license plate can result in a citation.

Unauthorized plates can get you in trouble, and yes it happens. Using license plates that do not belong to the vehicle or displaying plates that have been canceled or suspended can lead to penalties. This might be a reason know your license plate number and check them from time to time to make sure they haven't been switched.

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Make sure your plates are placed properly. License plates must be securely fastened and displayed in a horizontal position on both the front and rear of the vehicle. Failing to properly affix the plates or displaying them at an incorrect angle may result in a ticket.

Don't try to use altered or, even worse, fake plates. Modifying or altering license plates, such as changing the characters or colors, or using counterfeit plates, is illegal and can result in severe penalties.

Along with that, using stolen plates will probably get you in to trouble. Using stolen license plates or possessing stolen plates is a serious offense that can result in legal consequences.

And make sure your vehicle is registered. Operating a vehicle without valid registration or failing to properly register a newly acquired vehicle can lead to citations.

By the way, you do have some choices in the types of plates you can have on your vehicle. In addition to standard plates, the DMV can issues personalized license plates and specialty plates.

Personalized license plates will cost you an additional fee. These plates allow you to choose a combination of letters and numbers, subject to certain restrictions. During this last legislative session, the was a bill under consideration that was going to put a two year pause on the issuance of personalized license plates, but the measure was modified, and personalized plates are still being issued. Keep in mind there are restrictions and limitations on these personalized plates, and with many plates already issued, your first choice of a personalized plate may be rejected. You can get information on personalized plates here.


Utah also provides various specialty license plates, such as those supporting specific causes, organizations, or institutions. These plates often require additional fees and may have specific eligibility requirements.

And in certain situations, Utah issues temporary license plates that can be used for a limited period, such as when purchasing a new vehicle. These temporary plates display specific information, including an expiration date.

So, if you want to avoid being pulled over and issued a citation, all you may need to do is step up to the plate.


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