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'Sneaky' driver caught with expired license plate tab colored in to say 2019

The 2018 tab was doctored to say 2019, but there were a few clues to help give it away.

From a distance and to the untrained eye, most anyone could have been fooled. A Ford with a Washington state license plate had tabs that said it would expire December of 2019.

Turns out, someone doctored it with what appeared to be a black felt pen to make the 2018 tab say 2019.

Trooper Heather Axtman of the Washington State Patrol tweeted out images of the artwork that was spotted by a trooper on Interstate 5 in Lynnwood, north of Seattle.

"Sneaky, sneaky!! This driver was issued a $228 ticket for their expired vehicle tab. Their coloring skills are kind of on point but not good enough to sneak past a Snohomish County Trooper! #aforeffort #nicetry," Axtman wrote.

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Even if they were "on point," there were some giveaways. The 2018 tabs were green and the 2019 tabs are black, hence the color choice. The ink covered enough of the "8" to look kind of like a "9" from a distance. But the artist didn't cover up all of the green. Inside the "0," the green is completely exposed. Some green can also be seen around the numbers and the letter "K" at the top.

Credit: Washington State Patrol
A green 2018 license plate tab was colored in to make it look similar to a black 2019 tab on vehicle in Washington state. A trooper caught it on Sept. 5, 2019.

Another thing that may have made it easier to spot was the December sticker that was right next to the 2018 tab. It is also green, so it visually blended in with the doctored sticker. 

Credit: Washington State Patrol
The thing that may have helped make the green on the doctored 2018 more visible was the green December tab next to it.

Despite that -- assuming this vehicle hadn't been parked since last December -- someone was able to drive it around for more than eight months before being caught.

The fine? $228.

This isn't the first time this year someone with a fake plate has been caught. A big rig trucker in California was arrested in June after being spotted with a phony 1960s-style yellow-on-black plate which had wobbly letters and numbers. Also, instead of "CALIFORNIA," it read "CALIFAS."

That driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, possessing methamphetamine, being an unlicensed driver and having an active arrest warrant.