Can You Really Get A Ticket For Having an Air Freshener In Your Car?

Maybe you’ve never had a pair of fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror in your car, but if you have that, other types of paraphernalia or décor, or even a device stuck onto your windshield, you could be courting a traffic violation in the state of New Jersey. That’s because of a license plate and windshield obstruction law that is increasingly being applied by the police.

According to an analysis of violation data conducted by the New Jersey judiciary, in calendar 2017 there were more than 111,000 motorists who were given tickets just for license plate infractions, and the overall number of tickets is up 8 percent since 2015.  The tickets have represented at least $21.5 million in fines over the last three years.

The license plate violations cite a number of offenses, including serious ones such as failure to display a front license plate or displaying a fictitious license plate, to more questionable offenses such as obstruction caused by a license plate holder – even one provided by the automobile dealer from whom a motorist purchased their car. Any license plate frame that obscures any part of the marking on a license plate, including the words “New Jersey” or “Garden State”, can be cause for a ticket. As for the windshield violations, the state’s law indicates that “any sign, poster, sticker or other non-transparent material upon the front windshield” or other front windows (other than state-issued decals such as inspection stickers) can be cause for a ticket. That includes cellphone or GPS holders and even EZ Pass devices, which the state provides with stickers so that they can easily be attached to the windshield.

Motorists have reported having been pulled over for having one of those pine tree-shaped air fresheners hanging from their rearview mirror, and the tickets are frequently issued instead of speeding tickets, as a sort of no-points warning to motorists so that they feel fortunate for not having gotten a heftier fine. The charge is generally about $47 with no points assessed and no report to your insurance company, a sum which is considered far preferable to speeding tickets that can range between $85 and $500 and which come with penalty points.

Though the tickets are meant to promote safety and eliminate blind spots, there are many who believe that they are being abused, in part because they are difficult to defend against. If you have been accused of a traffic violation that you would like to discuss with an experienced attorney, contact our office today.