HomeFeatured | Home PageA ban on license plate flipping

A ban on license plate flipping

Councilman Mike Driscoll

City Council unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Councilman Mike Driscoll (D-6th dist.) cracking down on “tag flippers,” devices allowing drivers to change or alter the license plate displayed on their vehicle.

“Tag-flipping devices belong in a James Bond movie, not on our city’s streets,” Driscoll said. “Their recent proliferation is a symptom of the sense of lawlessness that’s pervaded our city and detracted from the quality of life of Philadelphians.”

Driscoll’s bill defines a tag or license plate flipper as “a manual, electric or mechanical device designed or adapted to be installed on a motor vehicle” that switches “between two or more license plates for the purpose of allowing a motor vehicle operator to change the license plate displayed on the operator’s vehicle; or hide a license plate from view by flipping the license plate so that the license plate number is not visible.”

The legislation prohibits the purchase, installation, possession for the purpose of installing, manufacture, sale, offer to sell or otherwise distribute a license plate flipping device in the city.

It imposes a $2,000 fine on those found to have violated the ordinance.

“These devices are most commonly used by individuals when engaged in illegal activity like street racing, drifting or for evading tolls. A tag flipper could be used by someone fleeing the scene of an accident, perhaps one in which there’s serious harm or injury. The vehicle is caught on camera, but a tag flipper prevents the driver from being held accountable,” Driscoll said.

“A quick internet search for these devices returns thousands of results instantly. Many online ads explicitly note their ‘stealth’ nature, and countless social media users endorse license plate flippers as effective means to avoid responsibility for criminal behavior.”

The measure was co-sponsored by Councilmen Mark Squilla, Jim Harrity, Anthony Phillips and Isaiah Thomas.

“We know people use tag flippers to evade police, avoid tolls, dangerously speed and drift around our neighborhoods,” Thomas said. “Today, City Council is saying, ‘No more,’ and that quality-of-life issues like this won’t continue in our city. Councilmember Driscoll and this Council are dedicated to cleaning up how our city handles nuisance and blatantly unsafe driving behaviors.”

The legislation now goes to the mayor and will become law if approved.

Driscoll emphasized the connection between tag flippers and efforts to protect the quality-of-life for city residents.

The councilman’s latest legislation adds to several others recently passed or introduced that impose heavy fines on illegal activity, including drifting, street racing and “boom parties.”

“By passing legislation I sponsored last year, City Council will no longer tolerate drifting or racing on city streets and obnoxious boom parties,” Driscoll said. “We said, ‘If you engage in this behavior, the city will seize your vehicle.’ Now, we are cracking down on a tool used by many to facilitate their illegal acts by providing our police with a necessary tool to rid these devices from our city streets.” ••

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