Sheriffs' number plate frames may be illegal

When Julie Shaw of Bluffton bought her car, the dealer put a frame around her number plates.

She didn't think twice about it - that is until she received a ticket from the Police Department in June. She could have faced a $195 fine for having a frame on her number plates. The ticket was dropped after she proved to the court she had removed the frame.

Under S.C. law, number plates with frames are illegal.

So it came as a surprise to Ryden that the S.C. Sheriff's Association sells number plates with frames, among other items, to raise money for its advocacy and training programs.

The law states it is illegal to have a "tag, sign, monogram, tinted cover or inscription of metal or other material ... displayed above, around or upon number plates other than that which is authorised and issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles for the purpose of validating the number plates."

A representative from the DMV said the department has not authorised the Sheriff's Association number plate frames - or for that matter any others.

A mailing sent out by Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner on behalf of the Sheriff's Association promotes the sale of number plates with frames. Tanner, who is the vice president of the association, said Thursday he had no hand in the design, and he wasn't involved in planning the sale of the frames.

The mailing says an honorary membership in the Sheriff's Association and decal costs $20; the number plate frame is added for $6 more. Tanner said the frames weren't big sellers and that most people only want the decals.

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