I utterly despise on civil liberty grounds those red-light and speeding cameras that states and municipalities install to fleece motorists out of even more revenue. At the same time, I have not seriously entertained the thought of tampering with my license plate to reduce the likelihood that I will receive one of these expensive automated tickets.
Full disclosure: I received a red-light violation about five years ago, but they sent the ticket to my wife since that particular vehicle was in her name. In a spirit of chivalry, I should have insisted that the court reissue the ticket in my name, but since her record was spotless, it made better financial sense to keep the ticket in her name and prevent our auto insurance from rising (I had a speeding ticket at the time, and we worried that a second ticket might trigger a premium hike).
On Sunday we pulled up behind a vehicle whose plate is in the accompanying image, and I could tell that some sort of photo-blocking paint had been applied. In the evening light the plate's letters were visible, while the numbers were obscured. However, when my flash hit the plate, the letters became obscured and the numbers lit up.
The civil libertine that lurks within me applauds such efforts to keep the state at bay, though I suspect that a sharp-eyed and bored police officer might issue a citation some day for tampering with a license plate. I find that those blasted red-light cameras make motorists paranoid, and that people lock up their brakes too quickly rather than avoid getting a ticket. The net result, according to numerous studies on red-light cameras, is that rear-end collisions actually increase as a result of these devices.
What most surprises me is that angry citizens have not vandalized red-light and speeding cameras more frequently. While I do not advocate violence against the state (and certainly not on a public forum), I would think that this would be a more frequent occurrence. Someone in Tuscon took more of a civil disobedience approach, simply re-aiming the cameras instead of smashing or spray-painting them.
Hey man: people gots to do what they gots to do in the face of state tyranny, even when the affront to liberty is an automated camera.