pulled over by CA CHP today for no plates -- very odd interaction

pulled over by CA CHP today for no plates -- very odd interaction

heading north on 680 near Concord, going 62 mph, suddenly there's a CHP behind me with his red lights on. The first thing he said when he walked up is that he pulled me over for no plates. The car is obviously brand spanking new (2 weeks), with the temp reg sticker in the front window. Had to pull the sticker off the window, and when he inspected it, said it wasn't properly filled out, and wanted to see proof of ownership and insurance. And I'm thinking, WTF??? are you kidding me? I just got the F'n car! I don't have any of this stuff. I informed him that almost every insurance company automatically insures your new car for a period of 30 days. He says, what if you had an accident? I said, I'd call my wife, who has the insurance info in the other car. Then I remembered that I had a pdf of the Tesla Purchase Agreement on my iPhone, and when I mentioned that, he insisted on seeing it. After that he seemed somewhat mollified, handed my license and temp reg sticker back to me, and reminded me to be sure to put BOTH plates on the car when I get them, as he's aware that many Tesla owners are not mounting the front plates!!!

So, I can only conclude from this odd incident that the CHP, at least in Northern CA, are on some kind of mission to target Tesla owners who don't have front plates. Wasn't planning on mounting mine, but now I'm having serious 2nd thoughts.

Dennis | January 27, 2014

i don't understand this objection to mounting the front license plate. Is it the law in your state? If so, then mount them. but don't feel indignant if a cop pulls you over for violating the law. It seems there's a lot of discussion about this topic on this forum. What am i missing here? Full disclosure: i live in MA and have mounted the front license plate.

J.T. | January 27, 2014

Forewarned is forearmed.

carlk | January 27, 2014

Glad I rarely go to that area. I was pulled over in my Porsche a few years ago for speeding on 280 in San Jose . I did get a ticket but the CHP officer never even mentioned that I did not have front plate on my car.

jordanrichard | January 27, 2014

I just got my vin and anticipate a March delivery. Here in CT we have to have a front plate as well, so my question is, does the car get delivered with a proper mounting bracket? | January 27, 2014

Insufficient sample size to assume that the CHP in Northern California is on a vendetta against drivers with no front plate. Based on the entirety of your interaction with that particular Chippie, his problem seems to be resentment of expensive cars in general, not specifically expensive cars without a front plate.

AoneOne | January 27, 2014

Yes, the car comes with the hardware necessary to mount the front plate, and Tesla even asks if you want it installed before delivery.

Flyshacker | January 27, 2014

Especially after his issues with no plates on a brand new car. WTF?

DallasTXModelS | January 27, 2014

I don't know any insurance company that covers a car for 30 days. In Texas there is a law requiring 3 days so if you buy a new car on Friday after business hours you are covered through Monday when you can add your new car.

Tesla required proof of insurance before they would allow me to take delivery. I took delivery on Sunday afternoon and added it to my insurance while dropping the car I traded in on Monday at lunch time.

We are allowed to drive on the temporary California tag for 30 days before having to Title, Register and pay sales tax.

BobN @US-CA-SoCal | January 27, 2014

But in Calif, insurance companies by practice will insure a newly purchased car for a good long while. 30 edays? Maybe . . . as long as your policy is current. Of course the CHP and all other agencies are well aware of that. The new-reg packet in the window is de-facto proof of insurance, since Tesla and all other sellers are required to validate coverage at time of sale. FWIW, I tried to insure my Model S the day of, but before I picked it up, armed with VIN, sales price etc., and they said to cool my jets and just let them know when I had it. No hurry, take your time, etc. Been true for every car I've bought here. Different states, different practices, I guess.

ChopinBlues | January 27, 2014

Ahh, I forgot to mention something, which only increases my suspicion: At the conclusion, I again questioned him why he would pull over an obviously new car for no plates, since at any given time, there must be tens of thousands of such cars on the road. He then said that a secondary reason was that I was approaching a toll plaza, and new cars without plates frequently go through without paying. Well, I'm not buying that one at all -- first of all, I was still at least 5 miles away from that toll plaza, and by the time he turned his lights on, I was already in the right-hand exit-only lane to get off the freeway. And what was he going to do? Cite me for suspicion of being in a position to not pay a toll? What a crock. I'll say it again: he was targeting Teslas.

carlk | January 27, 2014

@Dennis I don't know if it's a west coast thing or not but you rarely see a Porsche, Vette, M's, Z's or many ricer cars hang front plate here. I don't remember seeing any MS, yes I've seen quite a few, have front plate either. I guess it's just considered not cool for a performance car here, on the same level as the baby on board sign.

logicalthinker | January 27, 2014

If you really hate front plates I think you can get a mechanized plate holder arm that can retract the plate out of sight under the car. I don't know the legality of such a device though, but it would seem better than simply not having a front plate.

Jken3 | January 27, 2014

At a Tesla gathering a few months back at the Menlo Park (California) Tesla show room, I did an informal count - about 6 (out of 100) Teslas had front license plates.

ChopinBlues | January 27, 2014

The delivery person in Fremont informed me, when I asked about it, that roughly 60% of CA owners do not mount the front plate. And as for Tesla supplying the h/w necessary to mount the plate --absolutely not true. They supply a plastic plate mount to which you can attach the plate itself, but no way to attach the plastic plate mount to the car. I even discussed it with them, and they said you have to drill holes in the nose cone, so clearly they were admitting there's no easy way to mount it.

And yes, I'm aware of the J-hook method of attaching to the plastic grill -- not convinced this doesn't cause an air-flow/cooling issue.

DallasTXModelS | January 27, 2014

There are 5 or 6 different retractable plates. They are to retract while parked (standing and modeling) and for track racing. Unfortunately most people getting these say they plan on always leaving it hidden except when needing to prove to CHPs they have a front plate.

The front plate law is for identification while driving. Keeping it hidden while driving because it's not cool and then trying to convince the police it was there all the time and that they must have made a mistake is just childish.

The excuse that it needs to fold away or not be there at all for efficiency is totally bogus as they have post with and without wind drag tests on several other posts and the difference is hardly measurable.

1LuckyGuy | January 27, 2014

I do not like cops. That is all.

jordanrichard | January 27, 2014

To those that say it has no effect on the aerodynamics, perhaps it does. The car was designed and built in California, a state that requires a front plate like here in CT. Yet, there is no built in accommodation for a front plate, hmmmmmmm. The absence of a set place for a front plate would be more understanding on a foreign car. With that said, my 2 Mercedes have different front bumpers than from what they have in Europe, to accommodate a U.S. license plate.

I never understood the need for a front plate. When you get pulled over, the cop pulls in behind you anyways.

When mine arrives in March, I plan on running without the front plate for as long as I can. Esthetically the car looks so much better without the plate there.

DTsea | January 27, 2014

If, when you finalize the car, you check 'install front plate holder' it comes mounted. Mine did. You don't have to do it yourself.

jordanrichard | January 27, 2014

What is the difference between "confirm" and "finalize" and when does one do this?

Keith72 | January 27, 2014

In the Houston area front plates are required (other than one year when the legislators never got around to renewing the bill). I was uncertain on what to do about my car, so I just started observing the cars around me. I was surprised that there were so many vehicles without a front license plate - not only expensive cars, but pickups, SUVs and beat up economy cars. Based on this I did not install the front plate, but had Tesla send me everything I needed just in case. After almost a year, I've never had anyone mention it to me. I've heard on the TMC forums that occasionally it might get mentioned when pulled over for some other violation, and maybe one case where someone got pulled over specifically for no plate. Worst case you plead for forgiveness and install the plate. I saw one driver mention that he installed the plate, took pictures and went to court. The judge just charged him court costs and threw out the fine.

negarholger | January 27, 2014

"And as for Tesla supplying the h/w necessary to mount the plate --absolutely not true. "
Not in my case - everything was there... nothing missing.

Chunky Jr. | January 27, 2014

I checked the install front plate holder button yet mine was delivered without it installed. I was too excited to take the car home to have them fix it at delivery, so I'm waiting until my 1 yr service which is coming up in a few weeks.

carlk | January 27, 2014

You'll get a fix it ticket and no point. All you need to do is to take the car to any police stations after the plate is put back on. Or you could just pay the fine. Not a big deal.

ChopinBlues | January 28, 2014

@Kleist: so where/how is it mounted? Holes drilled through nose cone?

sagebrushnw | January 28, 2014

The TM front plate mounting bracket is secured by drilling holes in the nose cone. Others have mounted the factory bracket using zip ties or J-bolts secured to the lower grill mesh.

J.T. | January 28, 2014

@ChopinBlues And yes, I'm aware of the J-hook method of attaching to the plastic grill -- not convinced this doesn't cause an air-flow/cooling issue.

What would convince you? Tesla said it's not an issue. Do you have information from a better source?

ChopinBlues | January 28, 2014

@ jtodtman: Just my gut feel. I wasn't aware that Tesla had officially condoned this method. Can you point me to the source?

TSLAPWR | January 28, 2014

Received a parking ticket on two separate occasions in San Francisco. Violation #V5200 Display License Plate $114.00. Not a fix ticket, an easy way to add some revenue to the coffers.

mdtaylor69 | January 28, 2014

An added benefit of the front license plate bracket is if you bump a brick wall parking before you get used to the length of the front, you don't damage the nose cone.

jordanrichard | January 28, 2014

mdtaylor69, in theory yes, but not really. Since the plate is secured to the bracket which itself is bolted to the plastic nose cone, it's going to crack/break if pushed in hard enough.

DTsea | January 28, 2014

I dont understand why people dont advocate to change the law if they dont like it. What's the big deal with putting the license plate on the car?

JeremiahJ | January 28, 2014

There are two reasons that I have heard for the front license plate law.

1) They work with the laser speed detectors. Police officers are trained to point the laser at the front license plate.
2) They are used by license plate recognition cameras at airports and other security sensitive places.

I live in Southern California and I have never put a front license plate on any of my cars. On each I have made a temporary bracket to attach the plate when I got to the airport or when I get a fixit ticket. I have received several tickets for no front plate. Each one has been a $10 fixit ticket.

muleferg | January 28, 2014

My Tesla is ready to be built. Got an email from them to send a copy of my insurance. I went down to my insurance agent. They ask for my vin # an they added my Model S to my policy. I sent them a photo of my drivers lic, and insurance. They also ask for the final payment.
If it fall of the truck and hits someone I'm insured. Wow you drove your car without insurance??????

Rte66 | January 28, 2014

@JeremiahJ, There are reports that Santa Monica Parking, and Beverly Hills Parking are actively ticketing for no Front Lic Plate. (I live between these two cities)

I wrote to my representative asking that motorcycle plates be a suitable alternative for the front plate.

From an earlier post, someone measured a 7% drop in range when they have their plates mounted on the Model S. That is a significant about of wasted energy and added CO2 emission (of ICE cars) because a Law made based on aerodynamics of 1933!.

dpawson | January 28, 2014

To tie this into another thread, people were lamenting the difficulty of using automatic toll transponders on the Model S, and I had noted that at least here in the Bay Area, if you roll through a toll without a transponder, they take a picture of your car, and before ticketing you they try to match the license plate to an existing account in case the transponder just didn't work for some reason. I would guess those cameras are examining the front plate, so if you didn't have one, then that approach wouldn't work.

weeandthewads | January 28, 2014

I agree with JeremiahJ on the reasons behind the front plate. His second point is the major reason that all states will soon have this requirement. The technology tracks the license plate travel patterns and can search for plates location at a moments notice.

caolivieri | January 28, 2014

I don't know who your insurance is through but USAA and Progressive both offer printing a copy of your insurance cards as soon as you set it up. They also have electronic smart phone insurance "e-cards". I think it took effort for you NOT to have insurance cards.

jbunn | January 28, 2014

In California it is not legal to obscure or hide your license plate. For example, a company sold some hokum spray that was supposed to prevent a camera from taking a picture of you plate. This would be illegal in California (if it actually worked).

If the cops find out that you have a front license plate device that hides it, you're not getting off with a fix-it ticket.

The plastic nose cone is $425 ($450 if you have parking sensors)

I like cops fine unless they are giving me tickets. My goal is to fly under the radar. I don't want to create any excuse to pull me over as the long term impact will be far more than the nosecone piece.

JPPTM | January 28, 2014

FWIW, I live in the SF Bay Area and have not mounted a front plate for over 20 years, and have not gotten a ticket (...OK--lucky). This past Sunday the Corte Madera Sales Center had a Cars and Coffee, and over 20 Model S were there. Maybe 3 had a front plate.

When I picked up my S, I had to sign a release so that TM did not install the front mounting bracket. They gave me the bracket and hardware which I keep in the frunk with the front plate, just in case. Also, at delivery, TM did ask to see proof of insurance, and Alliant CU asked for it when approving my auto loan.

Not sure why your friendly CHP officer in Concord put you through all of that, but it does not sound typical or routine.


SCCRENDO | January 28, 2014

FYI Use my transponder on the Socal toll roads placed in the dotted area next to the rear view mirror and works fine. Don't have a front plate. Before mounting my transponder my tolls were paid off the back plate.

Gizmotoy | January 28, 2014

I checked the box to have Tesla install the plate for my factory delivery. It was in the trunk. When I asked about it, they said no matter what you check on the form they won't install it unless you specifically mention it to your DS.

As far as insurance on delivery, it varies by insurer, but I'm not aware of any that require it immediately upon delivery. As mentioned above, at least with Progressive, you just need to notify them of the change within 30 days of purchase. Also, Tesla simply ensures you have insurance, not that your new Tesla is insured, for this very reason. I had mine about a week before I added it to my policy.

Same with the loan from Alliant. They wanted to know that I was currently insured, not that the Tesla was insured, and that when I did eventually get insurance for the Tesla that I added them as the lienholder.

JonathanL | January 28, 2014

In NJ you add the car to your insurance before you pick it up. In the old days when you picked up your car up at a dealership, you would call you insurance agent when you were at the dealer and they would fax over an insurance card within minutes.

As for the front license plate, I love having one because I have a good vanity plate. It is fun to watch people look at the plate, then look at the car, and then smile in approval.

aaronw2 | January 28, 2014

I don't have a front license plate and my transponder has had a dead battery for years yet FasTrack still works fine and I get billed.

DannyM | January 28, 2014

I had quite a different police experience about 8 months ago (when Tesla's were more rare). I was pulled over and the policeman asked if I knew how fast I was going and I said "50?" and then he asked what the speed limit was and I said "35?". He said "Yeah." I then said "It's hard to tell how fast you're going in this car because it's so quiet." He then just stopped, staring into the car, looking at the 17" display. He obviously had never seen a Tesla before. After quite a few seconds of awkward silence, he said "How about I just give you a warning today." I said thank you and drove off.

JimAlger | January 28, 2014

FUNFACT: In California, that temporary registration IS NOT EVEN REQUIRED TO BE IN THE WINDO, but must be on your person.

Also, in California ALL INSURANCE COMPANIES that write California policies are REQUIRED BY LAW to cover new vehicles on the existing policy for 30 days. That said, it would take you all of 10 minutes to call your insurance company and add your car so they could send you at least an e-card.

Sounds like this cop had a stick up his butt... I find that rare for CHP, they know better but it does happen.

LeonardV | January 28, 2014

I guess my day is coming but I have not had a front plate on any of my cars going on more than10 years. I live in Northern CA near Sacramento and travel frequently to the Bay area and So Cal and have yet to be questioned. I feel that a front plate destroys the front of most cars, collects bugs, and increases wind resistance. It would be a tough day if I am ever forced to put one on the front of my beautiful MS.

Cindy I II III | January 29, 2014

Shouldn't have read this thread. Jinked the flow of days

Got pulled over myself this very morning. I live near PA/NJ boarder. PA doesn't require front license plate. Thought I could get away with not having a front license plate for much longer than 5 months. However, today at the traffic light, the cop was staring at me and Nelson's bare nose cone from the other side for the duration of the red light. He decided to take the U-turn and step out into the frigid cold:

"You do not have an inspection sticker!"
"This is an electric vehicle. Inspection is not required"
He acknowledged it so quickly, it seemed like he knew it already
"You do not have a front license plate!"
Without giving me an opportunity to explain, he returned to his car and came back with a ticket.

Meanwhile, I'm grateful for the 5 months that I had.

Thomas N. | January 29, 2014

Cindy - fixit ticket? What was the fine? Will you temporarily mount it, have it accepted and then remove it again?

Cindy I II III | January 29, 2014

Thomas, the amount is not on the ticket. Have to go online to check. Didn't bring to work. Will find out when I go home. Depending on the amount, will either pay or fight it. Plan to call service center to have the ugly thing mounted. Honey moon is over :-(

togliat | January 29, 2014

+1 LeonardV
Been near Sacramento too, for six years, never used a front plate.
Had my model S since Thanksgiving 2013.
Agree with all your comments.
Am struggling with decision...I know some of us are lucky and some of us have various risk tolerances.
Big Brother wants the plate, and I don't see this law going away.