Why Do Bikers Flip Their Plates When They See Cops?

By Pyle Law, Reviewed by E. THomas Pyle November 06 2023 7:46 pm

Why Do Bikers Flip Their Plates When They See Cops?

By Pyle Law, Reviewed by E. THomas Pyle November 06 2023 7:46 pm
Why Do Bikers Flip Their Plates When They See Cops?

When a biker spots those flashing lights in the rearview mirror, they might, at first instinct, flip down their license plate. Why? Because it helps avoid getting slapped with a ticket. They may also have a warrant out for their arrest, and it helps them buy time – especially if they want to make a clean getaway. It allows them to disappear into the night or escape from capture during the day.  Without a license number, the police can’t run a search for your address or check cameras to trace your route in town. You’ll remain anonymous. 

However, flipping a license plate is not foolproof. You can also get caught if an officer has a dash cam. Instead, it’s far better to follow the rules of the road. Being an outlaw biker carries some serious legal penalties and risks. It can also make motorcycle accidents more challenging, and anyone injured should seek immediate help from an injury attorney


Types of Flipping Devices

A biker outlaw might flip a plate by using a remote device. This electronic, when activated, rotates the plate 180 degrees so another plate number appears. The use of the device, although unlawful, is used to evade tolls or speed cameras or to avoid detection concerning another crime or infraction. For example, a motorcyclist might use the device if they have not registered their bike.  They may also install a manual flipper – a tool that allows you to flip up the plate and conceal it. 


Why It’s Best Not to Flip Your Plates

However, don’t flip your plates if you want to stay safe and prevent legal problems and hassles. While some motorcyclists actually flip plates to make them clearer to see when it rains, they’re usually flipped for more nefarious reasons.


Fines and Penalties

If police notice your plate is flipped, they’ll likely pull you over to investigate. At a minimum, you can expect a traffic citation and a fine for obscuring your license plate, which is illegal. You might also get your license suspended if you’re a repeat offender.


Increased Police Scrutiny

Naturally, flipping your plate is suspicious behavior that will draw extra attention from police. Doing so may cause them to search your bike for any signs of criminal activity. Any illegal items they discover could lead to criminal charges on top of the traffic offense.


Loss of Registration

Obscuring or altering your license plate may be grounds for temporarily suspending your registration


Alternatives to Flipping Your Plate When You See Cops

To play it safe and to prevent unwanted attention from the police, dispense with the flipping device altogether. Follow the tips below instead.


Pull Over Immediately

The safest option is to remain calm, then signal and carefully pull your bike over as soon as it’s safe to do so. Once stopped, keep your helmet on, turn off the engine, and place your hands on the handlebars where the officer can see them. Follow the officer’s instructions and be respectful. While you may receive a traffic citation, flipping your plate will only make the situation much worse.


Check Your Speed and Signals

Double-check that you’re obeying the posted speed limit and using proper turn signals. Officers often pull over bikers for minor infractions. Staying within five mph of the limit and proper signaling gives the officer one less reason to turn on those lights.


Make Sure Your Paperwork is in Order

Riding without a proper license, registration, or insurance is asking for trouble. Keep your paperwork with you and up to date to avoid penalties. 


Consider Your Appearance

Your appearance and how you carry yourself can also attract unwanted police attention. Avoid wearing clothing with offensive images or text. Don’t make aggressive gestures or rev your engine excessively at stoplights. Maintain a peaceful, law-abiding presence.


Obey Traffic Laws

Follow the rules of the road. Come to complete stops at stop signs and red lights, use your turn signals, don’t speed, and avoid reckless driving. Riding safely and legally is the best way to avoid trouble with the police. It also prevents motorcycle accidents and personal injury claims.


Ensure Your Bike is Road-Worthy

Check that your lights, signals, brakes, tires, and other equipment are in working order. Unroadworthy bikes are easy targets for getting pulled over by the police.


Know Your Rights

Familiarize yourself with the laws regarding traffic stops and searches in your area. You have the right to remain silent and refuse consent to a search without probable cause. Be polite but firm, and ask if you’re free to go if you believe you’ve been pulled over without cause. It might help you beat an unlawful ticket in court.


Consider a Helmet Camera

A helmet camera can provide video evidence in case of an unlawful traffic stop or confrontation. The footage may be useful in proving your case and holding officers accountable for their activities. 

Following the above common-sense tips and riding smart can help reduce your chances of unwanted encounters with the police. It can also help you avoid accidents on the open road.


Contact a Kansas Motorcycle Attorney Today

Have you been involved in a motorcycle accident? Maybe you have questions about your rights as a motorcyclist. If so, contact a motorcycle accident attorney now to set up a consultation. In Kansas, your go-to firm is Pyle Law. Schedule an appointment today.


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Pyle Law was founded in 1999 with a commitment to fewer clients and better service. We believe that each and every client is important and everyone is entitled to justice and equal protection under our laws. We make every case a priority and are committed to keeping each client informed about the status of their case. We do not guarantee results, but we do guarantee effort.


This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney E. Thomas Pyle who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a practicing personal injury trial attorney.