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Question for LEOs: Vintage License Plates


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Over on another board there is some debate going on about traveling in vehicles with vintage license plates. The laws concerning vintage plates vary from state to state, though they are all similar.


In my own state there are some advantages - lower cost, no inspection, no renewal - but there is a big catch in that the law says you can not travel more than 250 miles from home for "pleasure driving" - whatever that means - and you can't use them for going back and forth to work. You also have to provide notarized proof that you own a vehicle with normal plates.


However, the law otherwise states that one can travel to rallies and shows, and some vagueness in the punctuation and grammar makes it unclear whether the 250 mile limit for "Pleasure driving" also applies to traveling to rallies, auctions, shows, etc. Yes, I could ask my state representative, but he would just xerox me a copy of the law and consider that a good days work.


So my question for LEOs is: have you ever stopped someone with out of state vintage plates? If so do you have to look up the restrictions from their home state to see if they are in compliance? Can you ticket them for some variety of improper registration or some such thing? Or would you just overlook what could be more trouble than its worth?

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Danny caddyshack Noonan

LEOs can only enforce the laws in their own state. The only out of state enforcement that can be made is for a warrant issued out of another state....and some of those, when presented for picking the dude, are just downright pretty with all sorts of gold foil, artwork and such. But, I digress.



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Regardless of state of issuance, if it is currently registered that's good enough for me. Cops have bigger fish to fry than to figure out the subtle nuances of out-of state specialty plates.

With exception to these circumstances...

It is no secret Ca is broke and has extremely high registration fees and taxes. The state also has draconian smog check laws and some of those vehicles cannot pass Ca emission tests. Some ca residents who own 1975 and newer vehicles (subject to a smog check) might register in another state to avoid emissions checks and Ca registration fees.

All Ca cops come down hard on this type of swindler and tax cheater.

Big problem in the SF Bay Area is enforcing folks who drive without plates even though plates have been issued and the Ca registration is current. Why do people drive without plates? Many reasons, but the big one is to avoid paying tolls on bridges and toll roads.


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Good evening,


In Massachusetts, "old" or discontinued series of plates can be used with some restrictions. They must be year specific to the year of the vehicle, i.e. original 1940 Mass. plates can only be used to register a 1940 vehicle. There must be two plates, one front and one back, if that was the number of plates originaly issued, otherwise the single plate is mounted on the back end. The plates cannot have been re-painted to look shiney and new so their original patina is shown.


It does not matter who the plates were issued to back in the day as long as they are not stolen or the registration number is not presently in use on a currantly issued plate. There is no restriction on the usage or location of travel. They are a valid current registration plate in all respects. These differ from an antique plate used to register an antique vehicle which does have mileage and use restrictions.


The trick, of course, is to find two very nice plates for the year of your vehicle. I have two 1940 MA plates for my grandfathers 1940 Ford DeLuxe, four door sedan with a radio and heater, both of which were options. I am the second owner.







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