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Can the cops pull me over and search my car if something is obstructing my license plate or tag?

Answer: Yes, they can.  Jermaine English was pulled over by two Orlando cops who noticed that his tag light and attached wires were hanging down, partially obstructing their view of his entire tag.  His car was searched and a seizure of evidence during the traffic stop resulted in criminal charges being brought against Mr. English.  His lawyer filed a motion to suppress (that is, throw out) the evidence because the cops had no probable cause or reason to pull him over.  

But the prosecutors said English was legally pulled over because he violated a Florida statute which requires a license plate to be plainly visible and free of obscuring matter.  The Supreme Court of Florida, in English v. State of Florida, agreed with the prosecutors and held that the traffic stop was valid and lawful because a tag or plate must be plainly visible and legible at all times.  

Lesson Learned:  If you're going to be travelling with contraband in your car, you better makes sure your rear tag or plate is plainly visible from 100 feet away.  And all of you speeders out there who put those tinted covers over your plates or tags so they can't be read by traffic photo cameras, beware: you are breaking the law and can be pulled over by the police at any time.   

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