May 20, 2022

Botu Linum

The Car & Automotive Devotees

Deteriorating RI license plates can cause cars to fail inspections

2 min read

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — In order to pass vehicle inspection in Rhode Island, a license plate must meet several state requirements, including being able to see the license plate clearly from 60 feet away, or else the car can fail inspection.

Jeremy Tung said his license plates were only a couple years old and was shocked when his car failed inspection because his rear license plate was peeling in February.

“Why should I have to pay another $32.50 to buy new plates from the state, when the state is providing plates that don’t even meet the standards that they require to pass?” said Tung.

Greg Costa inspects cars at Safeway Oil Change and Automotive Services in Cranston. He estimates at least a dozen vehicles a week fail to pass inspection because of an issue with the license plate.

“The plates that the state makes do not hold up to New England weather,” he said.

Costa said if there is a chip in the plate, road salt can start to get behind the laminate and the plate will start to peel.

“Unfortunately, doing state inspections we are the bearer of bad news and that is one of the worst parts of doing the job,” he said.

Tung believes having to purchase a new plate is a money grab from the state, but Bud Craddock, the administrator of the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles, disagrees.

“People are responsible for their plates. it’s similar to when you own property — you are responsible for shoveling your side walk,” said Craddock.

The state is in the process of phasing out the well-known wave license plates and will begin issuing new ones. First, people in Rhode Island will vote on the best design and the lucky winner will see their artwork displayed on cars for years to come.

Craddock could not confirm if the plates would be better quality than the ones currently on the road.

“I would say better technology — but slightly different,” he said.

Here is the official list of what can cause a sticker rejection for a license plate:

  • Plates that are dirty.
  • Plates that cannot be read clearly from 60 feet.
  • Any home-made plates.
  • Plate numbers that do not agree with the registration card.
  • Trailer hitches that block the visibility of the plate.
  • Plates that have been altered or changed from their original design or color.
  • Plates that are not securely attached or which are tied to the vehicle with either wire, rope or some other material.
  • Plates that are located so that the plate lamp will not properly illuminate the plate during the nighttime.
  • Plates that are obstructed by various slogans, colored glass or plastic, decals or other implements that may interfere with the identification of the plate.
  • Any vehicle without the required number of plates.