Let’s say that you are a young buck in Seattle, Washington.  And you think being perceived as stylish and cool represents an eleven on a scale of one to ten.  To elevate you to an eleven, you decide that having your license plate mounted upside down is far more stylish than installing it traditionally.

So you are riding along enjoying your new wave upside-down license plate.  But when you look in your rearview mirror, there are “blue lights flashing.”  So you dutifully pull over and wait for the officer to approach you.  The cop asks you why you have your license plate upside, and you tell him that you like the way it looks and “wanted to be different.”  The cop smiles, and when he returns, he hands you a traffic ticket for $106.

Municipal Court

You don’t agree with the cop’s decision, so you decide to fight it out in court.  But the municipal judge finds you guilty.  He says you violated a state law mandating that license plates be kept clear and distinct. He also tells you that lawmakers did not intend for drivers to mount their license plates upside down because it would impact law enforcement’s ability to protect the public on roadways.  You’ve had your day in court, but now you owe $139.  You still don’t agree and decide to appeal.  This time, you will go prepared.

court upside down plate

An upside-down plate of a different kind. Photo credit: saleofcar.com

Appellate Court

Showing up on the appointed day, you tell the judge that the law doesn’t prohibit an upside-down license plate on a motorcycle.  Further, you tell him that lawmakers have distinguished between motorcycle and automobile license plates.  Lastly, you argue that the law regarding motorcycle plates is unconstitutionally vague.

But the new appellate judge panel still doesn’t see it your way.  He rejects your claims and rules that an upside-down license plate on any type of vehicle causes the reader to view the characters in reverse order, which could lead to confusion, doubt, and mistake.  This, he says, would impede law enforcement’s ability to perform its duties.

Bummer. that’ll be $139.  But you have to give the kid credit for his rather creative arguments about his license plate mounting choice.  If you were the judge in this case, how would you have decided?  Let us know in the comments below.




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