Police cannot stop a driver whose license plate frame only partially covers the license plate as long as the markings are still identifiable, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled, in two cases brought by defendants who were stopped because part of their license plates were covered, although the stops were a pretext to develop a criminal investigation. The court ruled police rightfully stopped one of the defendants, because the phrase “Garden State” was completely covered. In the other case, the court suppressed the fiream recovered.
The court held that "limitless discretion can invite pretextual stops, like the stops in both cases here. It can also lead to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement."