Is It Illegal To Put Christmas Decorations On Your Car?
If you’re unsure about whether it is legal to decorate your car for the holiday season, you should consult with state laws before applying any decoration or coverings to your vehicle.
You can also contact local law enforcement if you have questions.
While this is considered a prudent thing to do, some drivers that park their cars on public streets may only find out the legal status of Christmas car decorations after someone has already reported them to police for violating certain laws related to this.
So with this in mind, we suggest that prevention is always better than cure.
Are You Allowed To Decorate Your Car For Christmas?
Whether or not you are allowed to decorate your car depends largely on the laws of the state in which you reside. In some states, such as California and New York, it is legal to decorate a vehicle for Christmas.
In most states, however, there is a law that prohibits the covering of your license plate with anything.
As a rule of thumb, any decorations shouldn’t restrict the view of the driver, and should not cover up the legal name of the owner of the car if applicable.
In a legal sense, a car is considered by law to be an extension of its owner’s identity, so anything that obscures legal information can still lead to legal issues.
In some states, police departments have their own rules about what you can and cannot do around the holidays.
This includes things like restricting the use of lights that match those used by emergency services, for instance, red and blue lights.
Even then, you will find that, depending on your state of residence, any extra Christmas lighting can be completely prohibited. This is mainly to minimize the chance of confusing other drivers.
As eluded to earlier, the legal view on decorations depends on several factors, which include:
- The laws of the state
- Compliance with driving safety guidelines
- Performance of the vehicle
In most states, there are no legal restrictions specifically related to Christmas decorations, so long as they comply with otherwise existing guidelines around modifying your vehicle.
Thus, it is important that all legal information is visible at all times, and that any decorations do not affect the safety or performance of the vehicle.
Risks To Consider When Decorating Your Car For Christmas
Things you should ensure your car Christmas decorations will not affect include the following:
The driver should have full visibility of the road at all times
This is obvious but is also something that is easy to overlook when decorating your vehicle. You even be fined or worse prosecuted if the situation is extreme.
The driver should be able to maintain full control of the vehicle at all times
If any decorations or accessories can restrict the driver’s ability to fully control the vehicle, then you should consider a different option.
For example, will such decorations hinder the steering wheel from being fully turned? Or perhaps the handbrake is harder to engage? If you notice things of this nature then you should reassess.
License plate visibility
Your vehicle registration plate, AKA license plate, should be fully visible at all times.
This is a legal requirement, so if you have any decorations that have a tendency to hang and swing around, then make sure that they do not obscure the registration plate.
Visibility of any legal information that may be required to identify you
Similar to license plates, if you have any identifiable information that should be displayed the make sure that they are not obscured.
While the license plate is the obvious thing, others may include, for example, your vehicle serial number if you’re a taxi driver.
Headlights, taillights, and side indicators should not be obscured
This one is probably obvious, but if you find any decorations hanging over any of the vehicle’s lights then consider moving them to somewhere safer.
The last thing you need is for an accident to happen because someone didn’t see your indicator light flashing.
Windscreen wipers should not get caught on stray bits of decorations
Your windscreen wipers should be able to function smoothly and efficiently. If somehow a piece of your decoration gets caught beneath the wiper blades, then this will cause several problems.
This ranges from making it impossible for the wipers to maintain a clean visible view for the driver, but could also scratch your windscreen reducing the strength integrity. This might, in extreme cases, lead to cracks in your windscreen or worse.
Ensure that nothing blocks the front grill, vents, or exhaust pipes
Blocking the front grill, vents, or exhaust pipes, even partially can cause damage to the car, affect its performance, and can also be dangerous for those onboard.
Check that nothing has the potential to negatively affect your tire grip/tread and brakes
Anything that will cover your tires, or look like that might be able to inadvertently wrap around the wheels, brakes, and axel should be removed as soon as possible.
Even though cars are strong robust machines, their parts can be finely tuned and intricate. Any interference with these parts can lead to inefficient behavior or, in the worst case, failure.
All external Christmas decorations should be securely installed
This is mainly to prevent the risk of decorations flying off your car and causing danger to you, other drivers, and pedestrians.
Ensure Christmas decorations do not obscure access to safety features
Every occupant should be able to access seat belts, airbags, door handles (internal and external), etc, without any obstacles blocking or reducing access.
The above list is by no means exhaustive, and will no doubt contain things that you are already aware of in the main, but it never hurts to have a helpful reminder.
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Last update on 2022-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API