Hitch Balls and License Plates

Us it common for people to get pulled over because the hitch ball ‘obstructs’ the license plate?
The vehicle in qiestion is an older Silverado truck and while we didn’t really pull anything with it for years, the hitch has been ont heir about as long as we ever had it (well over 10 years)

I imagine it might depend on the Ticket Quota of the LEO :smirk:
If “just a warning” then probably a legit concern.
I would (& do) remove the hitch when not hauling.
If someone rearends me, the ball would do considerable damage to their vehicle as well as my own.


I think they can pull you over for anything that blocks your license plate, if they are wanting to pull someone over.


Have not heard of it. The plate would be much more obscured when hauling a trailer, so I don’t see how it could be a ticketable offense.


Because in most states you can not obstruct your license plate. Even those covers are not allowed.

Clearly pulling a trailer is different.


But then the trailer will have a plate.

I’ve been kind of wondering the same thing - I just got a vehicle with a hitch, so I bought a hitch mounted bike rack. Surely the license plate will be obscured by the rack and bikes, but I see people driving around like that all the time…

well, trailers don’t need to have a plate everywhere.
Not all types anyhow.

The funny thing is, we have just swapped the old ball that had been on the truck for longer than I can remember for a smaller size one.
I am chalking it up to a quota fishing experience…


You might want to remove the ball receiver from the hitch to prevent theft. Some of that going on around here.

We left the ball receiver on our older dually, had a lock on the pin. Ball in hitch actually prevented an accident from a “could have been worse” situation. Husband was stopped at a light, lady in a low front Saturn coming a bit fast behind him, could not stop on wet pavement. She went UNDER the dually rear bumper and lifted the wheels off the ground!! Ball part plowed up her hood, then stopped her car about at the hinge of hood, so she was not decapitated! Husband was totally amazed, called 911. Police and wrecker arrived, did their thing, pulled her car out. She was shaken up, but got back in the car and IT STARTED UP, so she drove off! No visible damage to the dually, so husband called me to pick him up, dropped dually at the mechanic for a check over. Very weird accident! Just glad the ball was in the hitch that day.


The trailer plates here are tiny, like motorcycle plates. It would be much easier to get get a few letters off a full sized plate that is partially blocked by a hitch ball than it would to read my trailer plate from any distance. If reading the plate from X distance was that important, bigger plates would be issued for trailers. It seems like it should then be illegal to drive with a secured load that is sticking out the back of the truck, or having the tailgate down, because that could definitely impede the view as well.

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I do not know where you live, but in FL trailers need a plate…

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In MA, trailer plates are the same size as auto/truck plates.
If I got pulled over for that, for sure I’d be removing the ball mount after unhitching the trailer.

Even not having been pulled over for that offense, I’m still removing the knuckle just so I don’t walk into it as I walk around the truck.

My hitch is actually low enough so that the ball doesn’t interfere with the view of the plate. Now if I needed a rise on my hitch instead of a drop, that would not be the case. But my truck rides high enough to need a 3-4" drop on the hitch so the ball would be below the level of the hitch, and safely away from the plate.

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Ugh yes, my expensive adjustable drop hitch was on my ex’s truck and got stolen. Meh.

Is it a stoppable offense? Yep. Generally just the ones mounted ON the bumper, as a properly installed hitch connected to the frame will not obscure the plate. And yes the bike racks, etc. I tell people to take 'em off when not in use or zip tie it to the back of the bike rack. And no, it isnt a “must be a quota” thing, it’s a good and valid stop (for now, until it’s deemed mean and unfair sniffle sniffle).


considering how many years (!) the hitch has been on said bumper I think you will have a hard time convincing people that this wasn’t a fishing expedition.
Fortunately, these stops are an inconvenience, not a life-threatening moment for us.
The last time it was a tag light that wasn’t out.

Considering you arent seen every day for each of those years by a cop who isnt busy, swimming in paperwork, has to pee, hasnt eaten in eight hours, sees something “better”… Yeah I can believe it but you do you, boo boo.

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If you think about it this “offense” is the same as speeding. Every driver knows that speeding will get you a ticket if you get caught by police. Every driver knows people who routinely speed and very rarely get a ticket if ever. I don’t know anyone who truly believes that because they never got caught before they shouldn’t have gotten a ticket the time they do get caught.

If the law says “No X” and you do X it doesn’t matter how long you’ve gotten away with doing X before the police caught you.



The point is more that there are laws on the book police may or may not enforce.
Some that contradict each other. Others are obscure.
And they are trotted out for a big fishing expedition, when one needs a reason to look at the car/driver.
And that is where the ‘many years/many miles’ come into play.
And while the ball is easily enough removed, it takes a big-asp wrench to do it, because it is secured with a locking washer.

I mean, I understand it.
Cops are not measured by the crimerate in their district, or lack there of, or the good relationship they are having with their community.
If they don’t write X numbers of tickets, it will be a negative mark on their evaluation (and when they say it’s not true, they are lying! I have had more than one cop tell me that. Not warnings, or notes of contact, Tickets!)
Which puts them in a bad position, because once they clock in they have to ‘get the bad guy’ and make their job relevant. These days the Sheriff without a gun is unemployed.
And we become criminals just waiting to get ticketed.

@BrendaJane what do you not understand?

The point being made is that maybe in those years no one actually noticed the ball blocking the plate. I can totally see how that would be a thing. Ya know, the police were busy with other things. Maybe this day one happened to notice it and was not in the middle of something else (lots of options listed in TheJenner’s post) so they decided to point out that the situation was illegal.

The person pointing out that it is illegal is not the person who is wrong here.


Not on my hitch.
A big heavy duty pin holds the ball hitch in the receiver. A cotter pin secures that in the receiver mount.
Yes, I wrestle with it, but no tools are needed to remove the ball, leaving the receiver that does not block my license plate.
Like this:

If you are referring to the nut that holds the ball in the hitch, unless you need a different size ball, why remove that?

The way I read it, I think in this situation the ball is actually just on the bumper. Not a receiver/hitch situation like you pictured.

Random internet photo:

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