Ever since I got my 135is back in 2013, I’ve been driving some kind of stupid BMW coupe with no front plate. My 335xi similarly has no front plate. Yet, I’ve never been hassled by a cop for it, until now. Yay?
This past weekend I visited my parents at their vacation house near St. Michaels, MD. Usually my wife and I do this together and take her CX-5, but because our old-ass cats are getting increasingly decrepit, we’re now going individually while the other stays home to take care of the cats. So I took my 335xi. This is actually the first time I’ve taken it out there.
Hey there, dirty car out my front window!
On my way home from my folks’ place, I pass through downtown St. Michaels. Heading into downtown from my parents’ place is a nice speed trap where the limit drops from 50 to 35 and then 25. There’s at least this one little sign that tells you the limit is dropping to 35 ahead, but it’s easy to miss.
A ways up the road before this speed trap, there was a cop parked on the shoulder facing the opposite direction as I was headed. When I passed them, they pulled a U-turn and started following me. I figured, hey, they see the hopped up car, they want to follow me through the speed trap. So I set my cruise, paid attention to the speed limit signs, and slowed down when I needed to. Then the cop turned on their lights and pulled me over. I was like, hell, what did I do?
I masked up, and the cop told me they pulled me over for not having a front plate. They asked me where my front plate was, and I said “back at my house near DC, I was in a fender bender a few months ago and the body shop didn’t put the bracket back on.” I left out the part about how I directed the body shop to do this.
If a vehicle for which two registration plates are required was manufactured without a means to secure and display a front registration plate, the front plate may be stored inside the vehicle in a manner that makes the plate easily accessible for verification.
It’s a common misconception that this exemption is real. It’s not, but a lot of people keep their front plates shoved between their dash and windshield in the hopes of conforming to this not-actually-an-exemption. Similarly, I crafted my story about the lack of a bracket based on this exemption. I figure, hey, even though it’s not actually law, the fact that it’s out there with people talking about it that maybe it’s a good way to come up with an excuse.
After being very deliberate with saying where I would be reaching for my license and registration, the cop took those items back to their car, while I waited. Eventually I saw them print some kind of document, which gave me pause. But their first comment to me when coming back to my car was, “Have you ever been pulled over?” I responded, “Uhh you mean in my whole life? Yes, just not lately I guess.” Then they explained that I had provided a valid reason why I didn’t have the front plate, and handed me the document, which was an official written warning from the St. Michaels Police Department about the lack of front plate. Not a fix-it ticket, just a warning.
So, now I know, even though the front plate exemption doesn’t actually exist, my car out in that part of the state is apparently a cop magnet. The cops here in the DC area have better things to worry about, and there are far more fancy cars around here where mine draws minimal attention. Duly noted, St. Michaels cop, duly noted.