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While driving my mother home from using her Kohl’s gift-card, a red Nissan 370Z passed me going 20 km/h over the speed-limit.

Despite the driver’s haste, that wasn’t what caught my attention about the car.
It had no license-plates, either front or back, nor did it have a dealer’s tag in the window.

I watched in stunned amazement as the red Nissan pulled slightly ahead of a Harris County Deputy Sheriff and cut over into his lane with less than a metre to spare…and there were no lights.

No lights. No siren. The deputy just let him go on his merry way.

My curiosity piqued, and the speed-limit and licensing of automobiles apparently being in abeyance, I accelerated and followed the car, wanting to see just how far this asshole would get. It was on my way home, anyway, so what the hell?

I followed that guy for 20 km, until I finally had to turn off toward my house, and the strangest thing was that about 2 km before the turn-off, I saw a rapidly approaching black 370Z in my side mirror.

That car also had no front license-plate, but I didn’t get to see whether the back plate was also absent.

I’m from New Mexico, so I don’t really believe in front-plates. NM hasn’t used them since 1970, and it gives people a chance to have personalized plates. Mine used to say something I can’t repeat in a blog.

That aside; the absence of license-plates in Texas isn’t a rarity.
Beginning in 2008, I noticed an abundance of hand-lettered—the expiry date—paper-tags with “untitled vehicle” stenciled across the top.

I immediately had three questions:
1—If it’s not your vehicle, why are you driving it?
2—If it’s not your vehicle, who is carrying the insurance? (You cannot insure a vehicle, unless it’s in your name.)
3—If it’s not that person’s vehicle, how the hell do the police know it isn’t stolen?

So, here’s how the scam works:
1—Buy a vehicle from a “pay-by-the-week” dealership. (A real hit with the unlicensed, uninsured crowd.)
2—Pay for the abovementioned tag.
3—When that tag expires, pay for another, ad infinitum.

I’ve never actually been in a jurisdiction which allows untitled, uninsured vehicles on the road.
In NM, any vehicle found to be on the roads without valid title, registration or insurance is subject to immediate impoundment.

Thing is, I have an idea. It’s same one used by the UK, but with a twist.

We’ve all seen these bright, clear signs, which have the ability to display different messages, haven’t we?
The pixels in those are LEDS, the same sort used in the taillights of high-end luxury-cars.

Let’s shift registration of automobiles to the US-DOT, much as the registration of aircraft is under the FAA.

All vehicles, beginning with the 2012 model year, should be required to have a 75cm by 20cm LED screen incorporated into the location normally occupied by the license-plate and powered by the wiring which would normally go to the plate-light.

The front-screen could be wired into the DRLs.

Upon arriving at the dealership—for domestically manufactured vehicles—or a North American port—for foreign-manufactured vehicles—a SIM card would be inserted into a port under the dashboard of each vehicle, the door to which would be glued shut, and the removal of which would be a second-degree felony.

The registration would be renewed each year, when the emissions-control people plugged into the vehicle during the annual inspection, and you would be offered the option of renewing for a period of one to four years.

Such vehicles would also have the same cellular communications capability found in such offerings as GM’s “On-Star”, allowing the car to receive “update” signals from each state or province’s department or ministry of transportation.

The result of this would be that the LED screens would revert to a purple field and flashing yellow text reading “UNINSURED”, within twelve-hours after the lapse or cancellation of any policy covering the vehicle.

The screens would only display the unique license-number within the SIM card, upon payment of any premiums or fines.

The SIM card would go with the car, from owner to owner, until the car was crushed and shredded.

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