The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that police officers can legally stop any vehicle that has a frame covering the county name on its license plate.
The court ruled 5-2 that obscuring the county violates a law that requires motorists to "permit full view of all numerals and letters" on the plate.
The decision backs undercover Davenport officers who used the issue to justify stopping a man who was under surveillance for suspected drug dealing.
Dissenting Justice Brent Appel said the ruling is a warning to thousands of motorists who have frames promoting sports teams and auto dealers. He said they need to check whether the frame covers the county name because police now "may stop the vehicle anywhere and at any time" without any sign of other criminal wrongdoing.
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