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The Yankee Express

Laws regarding license plates

By Chief Steven J. Wojnar 
Dudley Police Department
I recently received a question relative to motor vehicle license plates.  A person wished to know the rules regarding license plate holders or decorative brackets.  I was asked to address what is, or is not, allowed.
  Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 6 and the Department of Transportation provide rules and regulations regarding the display of number plates.  The General Laws state in part, “number plates shall be kept clean with the numbers legible and shall not be obscured in any manner by the installation of any device obscuring said numbers, and during the period when the vehicle or trailer is required to display lights the rear register number shall be illuminated so as to be plainly visible at a distance of sixty feet.” According to the Massachusetts Registry, license plate frames or holders are not “illegal,” provided they do not cover any part of the writing on the plates.  Number plates are to be “undamaged, securely mounted, clean and clearly visible. No bumper, trailer hitch or other accessory may interfere with a clear view of the license plates.”  It is also important, if you wish to use a clear or plastic cover over them, it must meet all requirements for visibility. 
  If a license plate holder meets these qualifications, they may be permitted.  However, for a vehicle to pass annual inspection, the holder or frame cannot cover or obscure any portion of the writing on the plate.  If this happens, the vehicle will not pass, and the holder would need to be removed.  These situations are decided on a case-by-case basis by the people operating the inspection stations.  Their opinions can differ at times.  Take a few moments to review your situation.  If you require clarification on your vehicle, you may want to contact or stop in at your local inspection station, or a Registry of Motor Vehicles office for an opinion. 
Monday, August 2, marked a sad milestone.  This would be Molly Bish’s 38th birthday.  Molly disappeared from her lifeguard post at Comins Pond in Warren, Mass. on June 27, 2000.  Her body was discovered in nearby Palmer on June 9, 2003.  Although some persons of interest have been identified over the years, the case remains unsolved.  Since her disappearance, Molly’s parents, John and Maggie Bish, and her siblings, Heather and John Jr. have been tenacious in their fight to find Molly’s killer. They have also undertaken many initiatives to protect children. They have taken a devastating situation and turned it into many positives. I had the privilege of getting to know this wonderful family and the honor to participate with them in many programs designed to protect children and prevent future incidents of abduction. They are active in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Massachusetts Missing Children’s Day, and many others. I recently worked alongside Heather and other professionals on the Massachusetts Missing Children’s Task Force, designed to propose legislation to assist in preventing abductions and aid law enforcement in their efforts to solve cases.  It is a personal honor to know the Bishs and it would be extremely satisfying to solve this case.  Please take a moment to remember Molly and her terrific family in your thoughts this week.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Mass State Police tip line at 508-453-7575.  One of many heartfelt videos has been posted on Heather Bish’s Tik Tok Page:  user691003173431 (@heatherkbish) TikTok | Watch user691003173431’s Newest TikTok Videos
Fraud scams
A variety of financial fraud “scams” continue to occur in our area.  People can be asked to send money or card information to various locations or provide personal or bank details.  These can take place in person, on-line, over the phone, or by mail.  As a result, many people have lost large sums of money.  In recent weeks, a local resident was scammed out of over $2,000 in one of these instances.  I wanted to provide once again everyone with some information on these illegal activities.
  Money and identity scams have been occurring for many years.  Various types have taken place during this COVID-19 time.  Those responsible prey on unsuspecting individuals, particularly seniors.  Their goal is to obtain either quick cash or bank account numbers.  Armed with this documentation, the criminal can commit identity theft and access your finances.  Scammers can be well versed and prepared.  Many do extensive on-line research, including checking obituaries, tax records, or other publicly available information prior to calling you.  They may have the names of children, grandchildren, a deceased spouse, and a variety of other information, which they can use to intimidate or trick you.    
These come in a variety of forms.  One instance has an automated message telling the person they have been overcharged by their power company and they are due a refund.  Others tell people their vehicle warranty is up, and they are eligible for renewal.  The goal is to get you to engage with one of their “representatives” and provide personal information or send money. They most likely have little of the information they called you about and will ask you to provide it to “confirm” their records.  The caller tends to become rude if they are questioned.  Calls such as this are a hoax.  If it is legitimate, the caller should already have all the information and be able to provide phone numbers, addresses, etc. to you to confirm their legitimacy.  Do not trust any of this business over the phone.  You can follow up with your power company, car dealership, or other business to which they refer.  In addition to these situations, Social Security scams are also prevalent.  People can be told their number has been compromised or blocked.  Callers threaten you with arrest or other penalties unless you divulge personal information or send some form of payment.  Often, they will instruct victims to purchase gift cards and call them back with the numbers to quickly cancel the debt.  If a victim ever gets this far into the process, let this serve as an obvious flag.  No one is ever threatened over the phone by the Social Security Administration and our department has never arrested anyone on behalf of this agency.  
Please exercise caution, do not provide any personal information over the phone, and seek out help from trusted people (family member, bank, police, etc.) before taking any actions.  If you receive unexpected requests for money or other personal information, assume it is a scam.  Be very cognizant of these occurrences and protect your personal information.  Report anything suspicious to the proper authorities.
For those still seeking vaccination information, it can be found at or by calling 508-949-8036.  Please continue moving forward with the “re-opening” of our state in a reasonable manner.  Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.  During these challenging times, we, at the Dudley Police Department, greatly appreciate the support we receive from our community.  
Thanks again for your questions and comments.  Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department 71 West Main St. Dudley, Ma. 01571 or email at [email protected].  Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen.