Tinted License Plate Cover Texas: What You Need To Know

Are tinted license plate covers legal in Texas? With so many vehicles on Texas roads sporting darkened license plate covers, you may be wondering if they’re street legal or will earn you a ticket.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Tinted license plate covers are illegal in Texas if they obscure the numbers and letters on your plate.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about tinted license plate covers in Texas, including a deeper look at the law, exceptions, potential fines, and more.

Texas Law on Tinted License Plate Covers

It’s illegal to obscure any part of the plate

According to Texas law, it is strictly prohibited to use tinted license plate covers that obscure any part of the license plate. This includes covers that are too dark or have a reflective coating that makes it difficult to read the license plate.

The law aims to ensure that license plates are easily visible and identifiable by law enforcement officers and other motorists.

Law aims to aid law enforcement

The prohibition on tinted license plate covers in Texas is not just about aesthetics; it serves a vital purpose in aiding law enforcement. License plates are crucial for identifying vehicles involved in criminal activities, traffic violations, and other incidents.

By prohibiting tinted covers, law enforcement officers can quickly and accurately read license plate numbers, helping them in their efforts to maintain public safety and enforce the law effectively.

Violation is a misdemeanor offense

Using a tinted license plate cover in Texas is not a minor infraction. It is considered a misdemeanor offense, which can result in fines, penalties, and even potential imprisonment. The severity of the punishment may vary depending on the specific circumstances, such as the degree of obstruction caused by the cover or any previous violations.

It is essential for motorists to be aware of this law and ensure that their license plates are clearly visible at all times.

Exceptions to the Law

Manufacturer-installed frames are allowed

While Texas law prohibits the use of tinted license plate covers, there is an exception for manufacturer-installed frames. If your vehicle came with a license plate frame that has a tinted cover, it is generally considered legal.

This is because these frames are designed and installed by the manufacturer, ensuring that they meet all necessary visibility requirements. So, if you have a factory-installed license plate frame with a tinted cover, you can breathe easy knowing that you are in compliance with the law.

Clear covers are legal

Although tinted license plate covers are not allowed in Texas, clear covers are completely legal. Clear covers provide protection for your license plate without obstructing the visibility of the plate itself.

They can help prevent damage from debris, such as rocks or bugs, while still allowing law enforcement officers and electronic toll systems to read your license plate easily. So, if you want to protect your license plate from wear and tear, consider using a clear cover instead of a tinted one.

It is important to note that the exceptions mentioned above apply to Texas law specifically. Laws regarding license plate covers can vary from state to state, so if you are planning to use a license plate cover in a different state, it is always a good idea to check the local regulations before making any modifications to your vehicle.

Potential Fines for Illegal Covers

First offense up to $200

If you are caught using an illegal tinted license plate cover in Texas for the first time, be prepared to face a hefty fine. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) takes this offense seriously and imposes fines of up to $200.

This penalty serves as a reminder to drivers that using tinted license plate covers is against the law and can result in financial consequences.

Subsequent offenses up to $500

Repeat offenders who continue to use illegal tinted license plate covers in Texas face even steeper fines. The DPS has implemented stricter penalties to deter drivers from breaking the law repeatedly. If you are caught for a subsequent offense, you may be fined up to $500.

This increased fine reflects the seriousness of the offense and serves as a stronger deterrent against using illegal license plate covers.

It is important to note that these fines are not the only consequences you may face for using illegal tinted license plate covers. In addition to the financial penalties, you may also receive points on your driving record, which can lead to increased insurance premiums.

Furthermore, your vehicle may be flagged for inspection, and you could potentially face legal consequences if you fail to comply or remove the illegal cover.

To ensure compliance with the law and avoid unnecessary fines, it is best to adhere to the regulations set by the Texas DPS. You can find more information about legal license plate covers and other vehicle regulations on the official Texas DPS website: www.dps.texas.gov.

How Dark Can the Tint Be?

No specific percentage limit set

When it comes to tinted license plate covers in Texas, there is no specific percentage limit set for how dark the tint can be. Unlike regulations for window tinting on vehicles, the state does not provide a specific guideline for the darkness of tint on license plates.

This means that individuals have some flexibility in choosing the level of tint they prefer for their license plate covers.

Plate must be clearly legible

While there is no specific percentage limit for tinted license plate covers in Texas, it is important to note that the license plate must still be clearly legible. This means that even with a tinted cover, the characters on the license plate should be easily readable from a reasonable distance.

The purpose of a license plate is to identify the vehicle and its owner. If the plate is obstructed or difficult to read, it defeats the purpose and can potentially lead to legal issues. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the chosen tint level does not hinder the legibility of the license plate.

It is always a good idea to check with local authorities or consult the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for any specific regulations or guidelines regarding license plate covers in your area.

Enforcement of the Law

Part of routine traffic stops

When it comes to tinted license plate covers in Texas, it is important to understand that enforcement of the law is taken seriously. Law enforcement officers are trained to spot any violations during routine traffic stops.

This means that if you have a tinted license plate cover that obstructs the visibility of your license plate, you may be subject to a citation or even a fine. It is crucial to ensure that your license plate is easily readable and visible to law enforcement officers at all times.

Violations can affect vehicle inspection

Not only can violations of the tinted license plate cover law result in a citation or fine, but they can also impact your vehicle inspection. In Texas, vehicles are required to undergo an annual inspection, which includes a check of the license plate.

If your license plate is not clearly visible due to a tinted cover, it may fail the inspection, leading to additional time and expenses to rectify the issue. Maintaining a clear and unobstructed license plate is not only important for law enforcement purposes but also for ensuring that your vehicle remains in compliance with state regulations.


While many vehicles in Texas use tinted license plate covers, they are illegal if they obscure the plate at all. Law enforcement can ticket offenders, with fines up to $500 for repeat violations. To avoid issues, use clear covers or those installed by the manufacturer. With this guide, you can now make an informed decision about tinted license plate covers in Texas.

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