Is that a G? A D? Or an O? The above photo was taken by Iowa Officer Joshua Starkey’s dash camera. While the letters are washed out a lot by the reflection of the officer’s headlights, the ball hitch that is blocking part of the plate has stirred commotion.

According to the document filed in the Iowa Court of Appeals, Prince Payne was pulled over by Officer Starkey because he believed that Payne’s hitch impediment was a code violation.

According to the document, Payne was driving that night while his license was suspended. The truck also belonged to a friend of his.

Payne appealed the charge, arguing that the traffic stop was illegal saying that the hitch ball did not violate Iowa’s license plate visibility code.

Payne originally tried to fight the violation in district court, but his motion to suppress was denied after the court found that Payne failed to keep his license plate “free from foreign materials and in a condition to be clearly legible,” which is in violation of Iowa Code section 321.38 (2019)

However, the Court of Appeals ruled in Payne’s favor.

And then the case made its way to the Iowa Supreme Court where the ruling was split.

According to Radio Iowa, Justices Thomas Waterman, Edward Mansfield, and Thomas McDonald all voted with the district court’s decision. Chief Justice Susan Christensen, Dana Oxley, and John McDermott all voted with the Court of Appeals.

Because the decision was split between the Supreme Court Justices, that means the district court decision stands and the stop was legal.


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