Thursday, September 01, 2011

DWI Law - Texas Stop For Improper License Plate OK

In Dudley v. State of Texas, --- S.W.3d ----, 2011 WL 3720899 (Tex.App.-Dallas) the defendant was stopped because he did not have his fron license plate affixed to the front bumper. Rather, it was sitting on the dashboard behind the windshield. He was stopped and arrested for DWI. In Texas, it is illegal to fail to display a license plate on the front and rear of a motor vehicle. On appeal, the defendant cited to a previous case holding that the statute requiring the plate to be affixed to the 'front' of the vehicle was ambiguous as to the specific location. State v. Losoya, 128 S.W.3d 413 (Tex.App.—Austin 2004, pet. ref'd) Here, the appeals court cited to a different case, which had held that the plain language of the statute requires that a license plate be displayed at the foremost part or front of a vehicle, most commonly the front bumper. Spence, 325 S.W.3d at 651. The court of criminal appeals disavowed the reasoning of the Austin court in Losoya, and found that such an interpretation conflicted with the plain meaning of the statute. The court of criminal appeals opined that allowing a license plate to be located in a number of different places would make it difficult to quickly determine whether a given [vehicle] has a license plate or what its numbers are. Choosing to accept the latter appellate decision as the most persuasive, this appeal was ultimately denied.

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