Have you ever noticed a driver in front of you has stuck a pair of home made license plates on their bumper? This may be for numerous reasons from an accident to simply falling off. However if someone drives without a license plate, or one mangled to the extent it is unreadable, you can be sure a ticket for improper display is soon to follow.

Let’s say a driver has just experienced an accident resulting in illegible license plate. The vehicle is fine, only slight cosmetic damage has been done. Our driver has immediately applied for new plates from the RMV, as any driver without a license plate or an illegible plate should do. The plates however will not arrive for another four to six weeks! The driver works across Boston from his home and can not miss work tomorrow, much less for the next four weeks. In the mean time our driver must create a temporary plate. What are the requirements for this make shift license plate? Ann Dufresne gives a few guidelines:

“The legislation says approximate a standard plate as best as you can. There are no specific requirements for size, shape. It just needs to be legible from 60 feet away like a real plate. The hope is that one would use common sense.”

– RMV spokeswoman Ann Dufresne in an e-mail to Peter DeMarco of the Boston Globe

A temporary license plate must be placed in the same spot an official license plate would be located. Meaning the plates should be secured in the center of the rear or front bumper. Keep in mind when a home made license plate is placed on a rear bumper it must be illuminated. Placing temporary plates else, such as in the rear view window, will not legally replace a missing plate and the driver may be ticketed.

Creating a temporary license plate and placing it in the proper location is not enough to avoid a ticket. If you are pulled over with temporary plates you must also keep proof of the license plate application that verifies your plates are in the process of being made and on their way. If you have a question of whether or not a temporary plate will allow you to legally drive the streets, consult your local Registry of Motor Vehicles.