Fire trucks are supposed to have 2 license plates but some don’t

by in News

Q. I have noticed that most government vehicles have front and back license plates. Even cops! Even ambulances! But not so with fire trucks. I don’t see a legal carve-out for this omission, and they sure look good without one up front. But what gives? I don’t see cops pulling over Engine 51 on the way to the grocery store! I have seen these missing plates in my town.

Randall Marquis, Newport Beach

A. Honk looked around, and Newport Beach’s Fire Department isn’t the lone agency out there without front plates on all of its trucks and engines.

Sure, it isn’t likely that Engine 51 is going to pull a bank heist or be involved in some other illegal activity where a front plate will help witnesses tip off the cops. Let’s be honest – it’s not likely any Officer Friendly is going to pull over a firefighting rig, either.

But it is against the law for fire vehicles to not have two plates.

“There are no equipment exemptions for emergency vehicles,” Nic Lucas, a battalion chief for Newport Beach, told Honk. “There are driving exemptions and registration exemptions, but no equipment exemption. Therefore, we need blinkers, mirrors, lights, windshield, plates, etc. …

“At times when a new piece of equipment is received and placed into service, a front license plate may be overlooked,” he said. “Although this is not our intention, a situation like this happens. We do everything on our end to correct the issue to set a good example for the public by complying with the law. …

“That’s something we are working on, but it is not going to be done overnight,” Lucas said. “When they go in for maintenance, I would expect that to be addressed.”

Q. When are police officers going to start ticketing the scofflaws who have the old paper license plates without numbers on them?

Heiko Peschel, Foothill Ranch 

A. Expect that effort to pick up steam in the next couple of weeks.

Those banking off of the old law, in theory, could have bought a new car or truck at a dealership on Dec. 31, with up to 90 days to fasten their new permanent plates to the front and back. But that leeway is drying up.

Since Jan. 1, as you know, Heiko, new cars must immediately come with temporary plates with unique numbers so witnesses and surveillance cameras can more easily help officers find the bad guys and girls.

But here is the truth: Pulling someone over for not having valid plates is at the discretion of the officer, and we have always seen some vehicles skirting about without plates.

Only time will tell us how often police officers go after such scofflaws.

Honkin’ fact: Los Angeles International Airport is the second busiest airport in the nation and No. 4 on the worldwide list, according to preliminary data released last week by Airports Council International. LAX served 87.5 million passengers in 2018, up 3.5 percent from the year before.

To ask Honk questions, reach him at honk@ocregister.com. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: ocregister.com/tag/honk.