While the standard style of registrations used in the UK feature acrylic plates in white and yellow with numbers and letters in black, you might have seen some other types in use. Classic cars can legally use black plates with silver letters, and those with short registrations sometimes use a smaller plate size.
You may also have come across a registration that appears tinted. While this type of registration appeals to many drivers, the question remains – are they legal?
Are tinted number plates illegal in the UK?
Tinted number plates are thought by some to be a grey area where legality is concerned. While some motorists might choose them for their aesthetic value, these plates are sometimes used by less responsible drivers on the road. The tinted appearance of such plates can render the alphanumeric characters displayed illegible, especially in low light conditions. Motorists overstepping speed limits can use this tactic to avoid speed cameras set up by police to encourage and enforce road safety.
Registration numbers are required to be displayed clearly enough for police and ordinary citizens to identify the vehicle. This could be for reasons that include traffic collisions, crimes or law enforcement.
The law states:
“It is an offence to obscure, render or allow a number plate so that it becomes not easily distinguishable.”
This might include tinting a number plate, or something less complicated like a registration being difficult to read due to lack of cleaning. Mud can sometimes build up on plates over time, particularly when driving on country roads, and result in a vehicle’s index marks being hidden.
However, while a standard two-dimensional style plate’s characters might be obscured by rendering it illegal, a number plate using 3D or 4D styling that is tinted may still be clear to read.
Plates in a 3D or 4D style are legal to use in the UK if they conform to all other regulations set down by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). These kinds of number plates attach gel-resin characters onto the plate background, raising the index marks off the plate. When such registrations are darkened with a tint, it’s the plate beneath that is tinted with the 3D or 4D characters raised from the background. It could therefore be argued that the tinting on these number plate types won’t restrict how clear to read a registration is.
There is an even greater case for 4D style number plates. This latest kind of registration uses black characters on yellow and white plates to abide by the UK laws but also uses a bright, sometimes fluorescent coloured backing that makes them stand out even more.
Tinted number plates fine
Being caught on the road with a number plate that is not clear to read can incur a fine of up to £1,000. If you are extremely fortunate you may get away with a caution or a smaller fine of £60, but failure to heed the advice of the official who stops you could result in larger sums.
To make sure you don’t wind up paying unwanted fines when stopped or failing your yearly MOT test, it’s advisable not to tint your plates. For advice on what customisation is legal, you can rely on our professional team of experts here at New Reg for help and support.
If you’d like to style up a set of number plates especially for your car, why not have some show plates made up for displaying? As these plates aren’t used on the road, they’re not hampered by the same regulations. You can get creative with this for-show registration, using any colours and text styles you wish. You can even add patterns to the plate, along with your own motifs.