Ask-a-Cop: Faded License Plates

“As I drive around town, I’ve noticed that there seems to be a growing number of vehicles that have very faded Vermont license plates.  They are so faded that you can’t possibly read them.  They seem to be more recent plates.  The one I’ve had on my car for 15 years is still bright and readable.  Are these plates made of some material that fades rather quickly in the sun maybe?

I just wondered if this is a problem for the police, who I would think would have considerable difficulty reading the plates. And would these drivers be able to get a newer copy of the same plate somehow?”

Regarding license plates, Vermont law section 511 of Chapter 7, Title 23 requires that, among other things,  “The number plates shall be kept entirely unobscured, the numerals and the letters thereon shall be plainly legible at all times.”

The State of Vermont owns all license plates, and loans them (or rents them, if you like) out to us to use.  However, it is the vehicle owner’s responsibility to insure they comply with the above law.  If a license plate is faded to the point that it is illegible, a replacement should be obtained from the VT DMV for $10.00.  The link below will take you to a form to do that.

I do not know exactly what license plates and their paint are composed of.  A call to the DMV might get an accurate answer.  It has been my experience that vehicles regularly driven on dirt roads often fade faster.  I have never heard of the sun doing it.  Does anyone else have any anecdotal evidence of a reason for quickly faded plates?

If you have a question for the Brattleboro Police Ask a Cop, email it to with “Ask-a-Cop” in the subject line.

Comments | 5

  • License Plates

    Used to be that every year when one re-registered a vehicle, or registered a new one, Vt would send us a pair of shiny new plates. Then, I guess for economy reasons nowadays they just send a little sticker to go on the existing plates whoops I meant singular, now apparently the front plate is an anachronism as well — I still have a front plate on my vehicule but no new sticker. So if the plate fades, as things do outdoors, is this really the fault of the owner?

  • Sunlight must be part of it

    Both at home and at work, my car gets parked where it gets direct sun on the back and hardly any on the front. When I traded that car in, the dealer swapped them…the first plate didn’t fade noticeably more after that, and the now-rear plate faded.

    Last year a police officer informed me that they were now in unsatisfactory condition, and I had no problem at all getting a shiny bright new pair from the DMV. I don’t remember if it was $10 each or $10 for the pair, but there were no hassles.

    • Just Another Revenue Source

      I suggest the State of Vermont get with the program. I don’t see other state’s plates fading. Or is it some evironmentally friendly process,which is usually junk,that is causing this? At any rate, I don’t see where the taxpayer should be responsible if we are merely surfs renting these plates. Maybe the “landlord” should take some resonsibility.

      • Surfing serfs

        As I understood it when I chatted with the DMV person, one problem is the fact that our plates have a vividly colored background, so fading is more visibly obvious. Think about how many states have white plates with just colored numbers and letters. Also, our tendency to make the same set of plates last a long time, by driving cars until they die or transferring plates whenever a vehicle is replaced. My plates lasted from 1994 to 2012, so I suspect I got my money’s worth.

      • Wow

        Always someoneelse’s fault. How was your time in the Vermont legislature Mr. Mike? Your time on the select board? All the positions on the Complaining Board are already taken.

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