this black car has a dirty number plate and windscreen

Is It Illegal To Drive With A Dirty Number Plate?


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If you’re anything like this writer, your car might be a little on the “less clean” side and you may even have a dirty number plate. Getting a rap for being at risk of a dirty car fine? If anyone gives you flack, kindly direct them to this article that states intelligent people tend to be more messy. You’re welcome.

But the truth is, there are repercussions in Australia for having a dirty number plate – so don’t be trying this trick on law enforcement. It’s got to do with safety on the road for both you and the drivers around you. Let’s explore.

Dirty number plate fines and points

It’s among the road rules you may not know about, but an obscured rear number plate can get you fined. According to Regulation 25 of the Road Transport (Vehicle Registrations) Regulations 2017:

The vehicle number-plate issued by the Authority for a vehicle must be permanently affixed to the vehicle so that the number-plate is at all times: in an upright position that is substantially parallel to the vehicle’s axles, not more than 1.3 metres above ground level, the number-plate is not obscured, defaced or otherwise illegible, the numbers on the number-plate are clearly visible from any point that is up to 20 metres from the number-plate, and within an arc of 45 degrees from the surface of the number-plate above or to either side of the vehicle, and any cover on the number-plate is clear, clean, untinted and flat over its entire surface”.

New South Wales has the heftiest fine when it comes to a dirty number plate – $464 and three demerit points added to your licence (at the time of writing). In South Australia, it’s a $601 fine, but no points. Check out this list of fines in different states and our article on how to check your demerit points.

A windshield splattered with mud. Though there's no such thing as a dirty car fine, you can get fined for a dirty number plate - so be careful!

Why so clean?

There are a myriad of reasons why the police always need to be able to see your number plate.

Mainly because a number plate is one of a car’s most important identifiers. This includes being able to match you to your number plate if a camera catches you exceeding the speed limit. It’s also to spot and identify cars with drivers that may’ve been involved in criminal activities.

Dirty car finereally?

So, the fine for a dirty number plate makes sense – but what about a dirty car fine? Luckily, law enforcement won’t fine you if your number plate is clear and your car meets the minimum requirements that make it roadworthy.

With that said, you should never drive if your windshield is dirty or obstructed. In simulator tests, drivers crashed twice as often with a dirty windscreen than a clean one. There are also specific laws about driving with a cracked windscreen (read how dangerous windscreen damage is).

You also shouldn’t drive if there are items inside your car that are obscuring your view or making it difficult to move the steering wheel or pedals.

Other potential on-the-road fines

While you’re here, why not read our articles about these particulars that could land your driving in hot water:

Also find out more fun facts about number plates.

The rear end of a car covered in mud. Though there's no such thing as a dirty car fine, you can get fined for a dirty number plate - so be careful!

No more dirty number plate: cleaning it up

While I admit my car gets a little messy sometimes, I’ll also admit that I’m the biggest advocate for a clean car. There’s something about a squeaky, shiny car – inside and out – that just makes you feel better.

And you don’t always have to spend cash to take it to a car wash. There are many ways to clean your car yourself. From how to get a wet smell out your car to how to clean car seats, we’ve got all the tips here. Oh, and if you’re dealing with the messy struggles of sharing a car you might want to read up on that too.

Keep it tidy with insurance

So now you know to keep that dirty number plate clean be sure to safeguard your drive with quality, award-winning car insurance from PD Insurance.

Have a question? Check out our FAQ, or if you’re looking for a new quote we can help you find ways to save on your next premium before you click the button below!

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