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After cracking down on drivers with paper license plates, Glendale police hopeful new law will curb future abuses

After cracking down on drivers with paper license plates, Glendale police hopeful new law will curb future abuses
Glendale police cracked down on vehicle scofflaws driving with paper dealership plates last Wednesday. A state law that will go into effect next year will help curb such abuses, police say. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Glendale police focused on vehicle scofflaws last Wednesday during a special enforcement operation that saw 62 drivers cited for not displaying their license plates.

Dubbed Operation Paper Plates, the enforcement was done in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Task Force for Regional Auto Theft Prevention and targeted vehicles without front or rear license plates in an effort to curb vehicle theft and fraud. Drivers cited either had cars with paper dealership plates or without plates at all.

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In addition to issuing citations, the Glendale Police Department towed one vehicle because the driver was not licensed and two other cars that had expired registrations.

Outside of the special enforcement operation, the department will continue to cite drivers for not properly displaying their license plates.

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“It’s safe to say that it will not be the last time we’ll [do this],” Sgt. Dan Suttles, a department spokesman, said.

While cracking down on paper license plates is not a constant priority for Glendale police, Suttles said officers will occasionally target drivers based on community feedback. He said department officials rotate the focus on different problems in the city based on what they’re hearing from residents and what officers have observed.

“As soon as we put in a lot of effort toward one thing, something else becomes prevalent,” Suttles said.

He added that most people driving with paper license plates are legitimately waiting for their permanent plates to arrive, while only a small fraction are doing so for “nefarious reasons.”

A bill that was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown two years ago will help take the guesswork out of determining which is the case starting in January.

AB516 will require car dealerships to put temporary plates on vehicles once they are sold. The plates will display a report-of-sale number and an expiration date for when the temporary identification is no longer valid.

Dealerships currently issue a small, temporary registration sticker displayed on the corner of a car’s windshield.

Suttles said it will be interesting to see what effect that law will have in Glendale. If an officer observes a vehicle with plain dealership plates after January, the driver is more likely to be pulled over, he said.

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