Court: Motorcyclist wrong to turn license plate upside down

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GLENDALE, CA – NOVEMBER 9: A vanity license plate sits on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle at the Love Ride 20 at Harley-Davidson/Buell of Glendale November 9, 2003 in Glendale, California. The yearly motorcycle cruise and concert hosted by Grand Marshal Jay Leno benefits the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Reading by 9 and other charities. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A motorcyclist cited for turning his license plate upside down because he thought “it was cool” has lost another bid to rescind a traffic ticket he received.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, a state appellate court determined that the ticket and the $139 penalty Scott DiRoma received in municipal court were both justified. The ruling upheld a decision issued by a Somerset County judge.

DiRoma was driving his motorcycle in Warren Township in June 2018 when he was stopped by a police officer who noticed his license plate was mounted upside down. DiRoma told the officer he liked the way the plate looked and “wanted to be different,” authorities have said.

A municipal court judge eventually imposed a $106 fine and $33 in court costs after DiRoma was found guilty of violating a state law mandating that license plates be kept clear and distinct.

DiRoma appealed that decision, arguing that the law doesn’t prohibit an upside-down license plate on a motorcycle because lawmakers drew a distinction between motorcycle and automobile plates. He also claimed the law is unconstitutionally vague.

The county judge, though, found that lawmakers did not intend for drivers to mount their license plates upside down because it would impact law enforcement’s ability to protect the public on roadways.

In rejecting DiRoma’s claims, the appellate court ruled an upside-down plate on any type of vehicle causes the reader to view characters in reverse order, which would lead to confusion, doubt, and mistake. That would clearly impede law enforcement’s ability to perform its duties, the judges wrote.

A telephone number for DiRoma, who represented himself, could not be located Wednesday. It’s not known if the Somerset County man will appeal his case to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

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