By Jeremy Rochow
Published: Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Most of us know we need to check our brake and indicator lights regularly, but there’s probably one little bulb you’re forgetting to inspect. You’ll find this teeny-weeny light just above your number plate.
Why is this small light that illuminates your number plate so important? There are a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the light makes your car number plate visible to the authorities and other road users. In fact, the light needs to be strong enough so the characters on your number plate can be read at night 20m from the rear of your vehicle.
Secondly, if the light isn’t shining brightly and police can’t read your car’s number plate, you could be handed a $554 fine, plus a $92 Victims of Crime Levy.
You may also receive a defect notice, requiring you to fix the light before taking your car to a police station for inspection.
How often should I check my number plate light is working?
You should check all your lights monthly. That includes low and high beam headlights, front and rear parkers, which include the number plate lights, indicators, reversing lights, all three brake lights and fog lights.
If your car’s number plate light isn’t working, there could be a few causes.
It could be as simple as a blown bulb or something more sinister like faulty wiring or a bad socket.
A blown bulb can easily be replaced, however, if that doesn’t solve the problem, you might need an auto-electrician to investigate.
That little light isn’t the only number plate issue that could result in a fine.
Can I be fined for a dirty number plate?
If you’ve been out bush or driving along dirt tracks and your car is splattered with mud, check your number plates are visible. If they’re dirty, give them a quick wipe before you get back on the road.
The reason? A cleaning cloth and water are much cheaper than the $517 fine and $92 Victims of Crime Levy you could receive if you’re caught with dirty number plates.
People caught driving with obscured number plates: 2015-2020
What should I do if a bike rack obscures the number plate?
If your bike rack obscures any part of your number plate, you’ll need to purchase bike rack plates from Service SA.
They have the same registration as your vehicle’s regular plates, so you’ll only be able to use them on one vehicle. It’s also important to note, the turnaround time on bike rack plates is about 10 business days, so if you’re planning a trip, order them well in advance.
For those thinking of making a homemade bike rack plate, put the Sharpie down. Displaying a dodgy plate could result in a $741 fine plus a $92 Victims of Crime Levy.