June 30, 2022

Botu Linum

The Car & Automotive Devotees

California Has Legalized License Plate Wraps

3 min read

Image for article titled It Is Now Legal in California to Wrap Your License Plate to Your Vehicle

Image: License Plate Wrap

I don’t mean to toot my own horn as a resident of California, but I’m going to anyway. Sometimes, as a state we do awesome shit that really doesn’t happen anywhere else. This is one of those times as a company here that can legally wrap your front license plate to your vehicle. And it’s all state-approved.

In 2014, the State of California passed a bill tasking the DMV to find alternatives for license plate mounts as a cost-cutting measure. That’s when License Plate Wrap rose to the challenge and presented its bid to the state. The bid was accepted, and in 2015, the Huntington Beach-based LPW wraps passed testing by the California Highway Patrol, and the pilot program was launched with 28 vehicles in June of that year.

We all know that front license plate frames have been visually uglying the front fascia of vehicles for years. Automakers have at least come to realize that too and in the last few years, an increasing number of models have arrived on the market with clean front bumpers to accommodate the legally-needed aluminum accessory. With that, it seems like the prime opportunity for something like a wrap plate to be introduced.

The initial pilot program ended in early 2021 but has since been extended into 2023 by the state senate.

Image for article titled It Is Now Legal in California to Wrap Your License Plate to Your Vehicle

Screenshot: License Plate Wrap

How it works is fairly simple: you go to the LPW’s site and choose from one of eight different license plate designs. Each design is a standard California license plate, from a regular plate to a veteran plate. You can even choose some of the legacy designs like black and yellow or the coastal plate with a blue whale’s tail on it. After choosing a design, you input your vehicle information, license plate number, your address, and the vehicle’s mileage. Four to six weeks later, your plate wrap arrives in the mail with instructions on how to install it. Note that the company recommends you only use the wrap on vehicles with factory paint or at least very good paint quality.

I also reached out to the company to get an idea of who is purchasing or interested in these plate wraps. According to a company representative, thousands of people have been interested, and they’re seeing “more and more now on the streets.” LPW is also working to expand to other parts of the country, though they admit the pandemic has made that operation a slow process.

While having state approval is all well and good, that doesn’t necessarily mean local police departments and the state’s highway patrol officers wouldn’t bother vehicles they see with the wraps. I asked LPW if they were aware of any instances of drivers being harassed over the wraps. Surprisingly, I was told it was not an issue—with even some departments reaching out to the company out of interest, including West Valley California Highway Patrol in LA County. LPW even said some local dealerships have been giving their customers the wrap company’s information.

Image for article titled It Is Now Legal in California to Wrap Your License Plate to Your Vehicle

Image: License Plate Wrap

What types of customers are buying up these plates? LPW shares that these wrap plates have gone on nearly every model of Tesla; other EVs like Lucid, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Kia EV6; and high-end supercars like McLarens. Basically, these are customers who don’t want to ruin the look of their car with a license plate.

Getting a front license plate wrap from LPW will only set you back $85 (aside from the increased registration fees the DMV will impose on you). But $85 doesn’t feel like a bad investment for something that will clean up the look of your car considerably.