Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Mysterious drivers of New Mexico

On a recent visit to Taos, New Mexico, I encountered a strange phenomenon. I saw several cars there with their license plates altered as to be unreadable. This seems to be accomplished by 1 of 3 ways:

1. paint your entire plate white
2. Paint your entire plate yellow
3. remove all the paint completely from the plate

This wasn't 2-3 cars - I must have seen 20 or so in the week I was there. Of course, this seems to me to be an attempt to avoid detection from traffic (and ticket) cameras. But doesn't this seem to just invite getting pulled over by the police? Here are 2 cars I happened upon in the same parking lot. But, like I said, I saw several at different points of the trip. Am I missing something here? Some grand plan I am not part of?



7 comments:

Anonymous

And it's not just a Subaru thing?

I'm investigating this as we (I) speak (write (type)).

Alright,
whc03grady.

Busman

I dunno,.... maybe just drive the speed limit and don't blow the traffic lights and no need to mess with the plates.
Nefarious night trips I guess.

Anonymous

I've got someone claiming the plates are coated with some kind of plastic which wears away, taking the paint from the letters and numbers with it.
Also, here's a report in the Prescott [Arizona] Evening Courier, 26 March 1954, stating that the New Mexico DMV had been fielding complaints that blowing sand was sandblasting the paint off license plates. Obviously the cars you saw weren't that old, but perhaps the problem still exists?

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=897&dat=19540326&id=fq9aAAAAIBAJ&sjid=4E8DAAAAIBAJ&pg=3384,3390406

It could be a combination of these two issues of course. In any case, I doubt it's done intentionally, for the reason you give.

Alright,
whc03grady.

mgrady

Further discussion here:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=692377

It looks to likely be a combination of factors: red paint (the color of the text on NM license plates) is very fade-prone; NM in general and Taos in particular is at a very high altitude (almost 7000 ft for Taos), so the UV plays a part; plates in NM can stay in circulation for decades; blowing sand.

IOW, I'd bet the plates you saw weren't painted, they were faded.

Alright,
Mitch.

Big Blue's Driver

I still hold to my opinion that the plates were altered intentionally. I appreciate the thread and the opinions stated, but standing there with a group of people, we all came to the conclusion that they had intentionally been altered. Now - I will admit these 2 where the only 2 I inspected up close. The other examples were either while I was driving, or drove by me while I was walking. I see now my mistake was both not getting an up close of the plates pictured and also not taking a picture of what a non-altered plate looked like. One way to investigate this further - roadtrip!

mgrady

Hmmmm.
In a phone conversation with a representative for the City of Taos PD, they aren't aware of any local or regional trend toward intentional alteration of license plates, a practice that I'm told would result in greater penalties than the ticket one would be trying to avoid. They are aware, however, and without my prompting, that their elevation (8000 ft + in places) and the extended lifetime of New Mexican plates generally has led to problems with fading.
But I'm still up for a roadtrip if anyone's game.

Alright,
Mitch.

Big Blue's Driver

Mmmm. I'll concede it's possible. Especially since you brought the po-po into the conversation. Well done!

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