Is It Illegal To Paint Your License Plate? Important To know

It’s tempting to modify your car, including painting your car ID tag. However, is it illegal to paint your license plate, and what will you face by doing so?

The primary purpose of this detail is to identify your car. It’s like everybody has an ID, and so does your automobile.

In case of breaking traffic law or causing a car accident, these numbers help witnesses and police officers recognize the vehicle involved.

Is It Illegal To Paint Your License Plate?

Is It Illegal To Paint Your License Plate?

Yes, it’s illegal to have your white license plate painted.

It’s not your personal belongings, and applying any changes to it can cause difficulty in investigating legal issues such as fake license plates, traffic violations, collisions, etc.

You can’t do any customization as it will affect your car’s identification.

What Are The Requirements For The License Plate Display?

Now you know the answer to the question: can I paint my license plate? It’s time to check out its requirements and see if yours meet all.

All indicators/ stickers on the surface should be shown clearly without any covers. They include:

  • A sticker in the top left corner presents the registration’s expired month and date. For example, 9-15 means you should renew it before September 15th.
  • An indicator in the top right corner indicates the registration expired year. For example, 22 means it will expire in 2022.
  • The number on the bottom right means the county where you registered your car.

Where to attach the tag to your car may vary from state to state.

Some require it to be on the front, and some order it to be on the rear; meanwhile, you need to have it on both the front and back of your vehicle in some other states.

You should securely place the component in a horizontal direction. The bottom of the part should be at least 12 inches high from the road.

In addition, it’s required to make the details visible. Can you wrap a license plate? You are not allowed to do so since it can cover all or part of the information, such as letters, numbers, and indicators.

You need to make sure no car parts or foreign materials obscure or obstruct them.

Why Is It Illegal To Paint Your License Plate?

Why Is It Illegal To Paint Your License Plate?

Due to some reasons, it is illegal to wrap your license plate. Let’s keep reading for the nitty-gritty details!

It’s The State’s Property

You may have heard before, or you have no idea about this, the motor vehicles are yours, but all these vanity plates belong to the states where the vehicles are registered.

They give it to you to identify your car.

Let’s trace back to history. States started to issue this ID tag more than 100 years ago.

Initially, people received the numbers and needed to create their personalized plates. The first one is said to be issued in Massachusetts in 1903.

So, can you paint your license plate? The answer is no.

Even in some states, such as New Mexico, even if you register for the component, not your car, the part itself is still the state’s property. It’s subject to surrender if requested.

Therefore, you will likely be in trouble if you don’t keep its original issued form. For example, paying the penalty.

The Vehicle Code Part Should Be Visible From A Far Distance

Are you allowed to paint your license plate? The second reason does not let you do so is the features on your car ID tag should be visible.

As we mentioned above, there are numbers and indicators that can’t be covered. They must be generally viewable from 50-250 feet.

When you mount the component in a proper and free-of-obstruction place, it’s easier for traffic control to get your car’s information.

Suppose your vehicle is involved in a collision; the investigation may progress faster. The visible numbers can help in emergencies as well.

Therefore, you’d better keep the part clean from dirt, mud, and debris. Suppose your license plate screws won’t come out, learn some tricks to fix it to clean better.

Some authorities even ban plastic covers since their reflection may cause glare and danger for other drivers.

It Prevents Counterfeit Plates

Can you change the color of your license plate? Color or other features, such as background details, reflective paint, holographic imprints, etc., determine whether the part is real or counterfeit.

Therefore, it’s not acceptable to customize it.

Altered or non-standard license plates are a good cause for police pullover requests or confiscation. Paying a high fee may make you think you shouldn’t have done it before.

If the component is damaged, report it to your state DMV. They will charge you some fee for replacement, but it’s not as much as the penalty.

What Is The Penalty If You Break The Law?

Is it legal to paint your license plate? Now we all know that you can’t repaint or modify your vehicle’s number tag. There are still some cases where you can see the changes.

For example, due to some reasons such as long waiting time or complicated procedure of having the part replaced by the authority, some car owners just choose to paint their worn one with a similar color.

By using a close color scheme, it can make an almost perfect match with your original one. You may see in California, blue and yellow plates are sometimes black and yellow.

Law enforcement is likely to overlook it, but it’s not the case of totally alternating. A complete change results in a penalty.

The penalty in this case of transgression differs among states. In some states, you may even receive a traffic ticket for a bent license plate, or it can be a “fix-it” ticket.

In other states, breaking this law leads to a fine. It’s usually around $100-$200.

If you repeat it, the fine will increase. The more negative consequence is the suspension of driving privileges.

So, if the question: can I wrap my license plate still runs in your head, you’d better not do so.


Is it illegal to paint your license plate? You have nothing to do with the customization of the part since it’s the property of the issuing government entity.

DMV discourages any changes, even small ones, to “touch it up,” such as trimming it down to a smaller size.

This type of car’s ID tag should be fully displayed so you can avoid the consequences of disobeying the law.

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