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Beware Bumper Bully Enthusiasts

by Prince Of Petworth — November 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm 67 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

I received a $100 ticket for obstruction of plates for having a bumper bully in use while my car was parked. Could not find anything online regarding the proper use of these in DC. I contested the ticket online (fingers crossed). I am hoping DC is on the side of allowing these things as I can’t fathom parking a new car on the street without them. Curious if other people have gotten nailed for the same thing and if so did they appeal successfully.”

  • Woodridge

    That’s what the center cut-out is for

    • LGinMtP

      It’s a law EVERYWHERE that you have to have your rear license plate showing.

    • textdoc


    • anon

      Yeah. It’s fitting that it appears perfectly positioned in the photo; it just actually needs to be cut out.

    • oh2dc

      Why would it come not already cut out?

      • textdoc

        Many cars have the license plate spot on the trunk door, rather than on the bumper.

        • oh2dc

          That makes sense.

  • maxwell smart

    Meanwhile I’ve gone 5+ years without putting on the front plate because the bumper isn’t pre-drilled and I’ve never gotten around to buying a license plate mount and drilling the holes. Shrug.

    • kd

      I know in some states you only need it in the back. Maybe DC is one of them?

      • stacksp

        DC requires both and we too do not have a bracket on the front because I dont want to drill holes in the bumper. Neither car has front plates.

        • bje22201

          That’s why you buy a the tow-hook license plate mount that screws in.

    • AK

      You’re lucky then. I went to contest another parking ticket recently and one of the other guys who was in contesting was protesting getting a ticket for not having a front license plate. It was a pretty hefty fine. His argument was that he drives a BMW and drilling into the front bumper will reduce his car’s value. The arbiter was like, nope, not a valid reason, and said he needed to get that plate on ASAP. Still had to pay his fine.

      (Mine was dismissed… Always go down and contest your tickets people. It may be worth your time!)

      • emilysquirrely

        Yeah, I definitely got a few $50 tickets in the few weeks it took me to drill and install a front bumper plate onto my car. This was even when I had the front licence plate propped up in my windshield until I could get the hardware.

      • TJ

        Tickets can be successfully contested online/mail (my success rate is better than 50%, though I only get a ticket or two a year at most). Unless the fine is really large, it probably isn’t worth the time to do it in person.

    • sg7

      You’re lucky. I got a ticket because my license plate was more than 12 inches above the ground. (Some jerk had hit the front of our car and driven off, and we hadn’t gotten around to fixing the front plate–just stuck it in the windshield). So, you know. That’s a law.

    • Smittty

      I can’t believe they haven’t caught this yet. I (stupidly) accidently screwed on both plates to the back (didn’t noticed they were stacked on eachother) and I had a ticket within 24 hours. I need some of your parking luck!

      • maxwell smart

        It helps having off-street parking

    • blerg

      After moving to DC from a state that doesn’t require front license plates, and no way to mount one on my car, I placed my new DC front license plate on my dashboard. I got a ticket 5 days later.

    • boybert

      I got a ticket the ONE DAY I didn’t have a front plate because it got torn off in the car wash. I’d put it on the dashboard while I figured out a way to fix it back on. That night I got a ticket! Can’t remember how much it was, but my appeal was also rejected.

    • Mug of Glop

      When I first moved here and didn’t have a front bracket, I just went all MacGuyver and used a bunch of long bolts and big washers to mount the thing through the decorative grill cutouts (whatever the technical name of the things are called) on my front bumper. Doing it in an overgrown rear driveway in the middle of summer got me a bunch of mosquito bites on my ankles along with my newly achieved road legality.

    • soozles

      I got a ticket for not having a front tag when I first moved here from Tennessee. I had just bought a bracket to put the tag on when I got the ticket. I took the receipt for the bracket to argue against the $50 ticket and got out of it.

      Also, FWIW, those tinted plastic coverings over license tags are also illegal, but that doesn’t seem to be enforced much.

  • Ben

    +1 for cutting out: http://prntscr.com/d4rdpt

  • NH Ave Hiker

    I keep a car cover on my car when I have it parked during the week – never gotten a ticket. Seems kind of silly because you could just lift the bumper bully up.

  • superstar

    There is clearly a space for the license plate – you just aren’t using it correctly. See Ben’s link above.

    Pay the ticket you earned and learn your lesson about reading instructions.

  • KenyonDweller

    I can’t fathom why anyone thinks those hideous bumper bullies are better than a few scratches.

    • andy2

      You do know that when you drive you tuck them inside the trunk right? They are just to be used while parked.

      • KenyonDweller

        No, I didn’t know that. I see people driving around with them all the time.

        • textdoc

          Ehh, if I had one, I doubt I’d put it in the trunk while driving — it’d be dirty from having been exposed to the elements while the car was parked.

        • eggs

          You’re not supposed to drive with it on the car.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Sort of like leaving the plastic wrapping on your sofa to protect it, so that one day shortly before you either sell the sofa or die, you can unwrap it and revel in the sight of your perfect unblemished sofa.

      • Anon

        It’s kind of like that, but mostly completely different.

        • textdoc

          Gotta agree with Anon on this.

        • textdoc

          (oops, posted prematurely) I’ve thought about getting a Bumper Bully (or Bumper Badger or whatever) for my car, but by the time such products were invented and/or came on my radar, my car’s bumper had already been scratched up quite a bit by incompetent parallel-parkers in Adams Morgan.
          The real problem is carmakers’ switch from black rubber (?) bumper covers to same-color-as-the-car bumper covers.

          • Anonymous

            The new bumpers perform much better in impact collisions than the old black rubber bumper. They are meant to collapse inwards and absorb the force, which leads to less whiplash on the passenger. They are also easier and cheaper to repair post-accident – the shop just replaces the entire bumper panel. The old bumper often caused deeper structural issues to car chassis, wheel alignment, etc.
            But yeah, they look like crap in dense neighborhoods with lots of parallel parkers.

          • Anonymous

            edit – meant to say “displace the force”. The older bumpers actually absorbed the force and sent it through the rest of the car.

          • textdoc

            But is there any compelling reason why the new bumpers couldn’t have been covered in black rubber like the old ones?

          • Anon

            Yes: scratches wouldn’t show up as easily, thus prompting car owners to spend money at the dealer to get them fixed.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Actually neither the new bumpers nor the old bumpers do anything to protect occupants in a crash. Their sole function is to protect more important, more expensive parts of the car, like the headlights, HVAC condensers, etc from damage. The structures that protect the occupants in the event of a crash are beams that run lengthwise along the car; neither the bumper nor anything else in the plane of the bumper (width-wise across the car) has anything to do with how the car protects you in a crash.
            The old black rubber bumper (actually a steel beam wrapped in rubber, the bumper was not itself made out of rubber) actually protected the car way better than the modern ones do. Most modern bumpers do not extend far enough toward the corners of the car and thus allow significant damage to the headlights, condensers, and other expensive components. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s tests of the bumper performance of cars, the best-performing bumper on any car that they ever tested was on the 1981 Ford Escort. And FWIW their website has a great deal of further reading on what bumpers do and how various structural components of a car work to protect its occupants in a crash.

          • textdoc

            Good to know, Haile! Thanks for schooling us.

    • TJ

      Agreed. Bumpers be for bumpin’

  • jim_ed

    This is why I insisted on having a trailer hitch on our new car. Well, that and it helps keep my dream alive of one day owning a bass boat. But mainly so people will bump us at their own peril.

  • dat

    FWIW, in my experience, when you’re street parking it’s always the rear corners of the bumper that get nailed, not the middle portion.

    • Anon

      While that may be true, you also have to consider the physics involved in striking the side of the bumper vs directly in the middle. It’s much easier to scratch the bumper on the side than by bumping it head-on.

    • textdoc

      That’s part of why I haven’t purchased a Bumper Bully or similar product for my car — I’d really like something that would cover the corners. Sort of like a car bra, but for the back of the car. (A car diaper?? Car bikini bottom??)

  • Anon

    Nice car – I was just e-shopping for a Golf R last night.

    • anon29

      A $35-40K Golf… My GTI was one of my top 3 cars I’ve ever owned, but could never rationalize spending the $$$ for an R. You could pick up a one or two year old certified (best certified warranty in the biz) S4 for the same or less than an R and get a much better car.

      • Anon

        That’s fair, but you can bet your sweet cheeks someone abused that used S4. I’d prefer to get first dibs over sloppy seconds.
        (Also, I guess I don’t have a problem paying 40k for a “Golf” – I actually prefer the fact that it looks just like a Golf over a “fancy” Audi, but to each their own. Though I may come to my senses and just keep using my GTI until I have an actual reason to replace it.)

        • Anon

          Edit: I’ll take all that back if I can find a gently used S4 wagon.

        • OP

          OP here…my previous car was a 2001 GTI and the last time I took it to the shop for an issue the guy implored me to sell it before the next problem came along. I have my own RE investment company so I am leasing and taking a business write off. Other than the badge, it’s basically a hatchback S3 and it’s an absolute blast to drive (I got one of the few I could find in a stick shift). There are certainly more rational ways to spend your money. Honestly the GTIs are probably better value for the performance but the AWD and extra power in this one is awesome.

          The ticket threw me for a loop because I assumed when parked the obstruction wasn’t an issue; only if standing idle or driving. I see so many of them without the cutouts for plates and there are other cars I see with full car covers that I just assumed people only do the cut out deal if they want to keep it hanging out all the time.

  • LNontheHill

    Yup. Street parking is why we will never buy a brand-new car while we live in the District. Solves all these problems, and cheaper too. (Our cars are 16 and 23 years old, and we park on the street. It’s nice not to stress about the occasional scratch or ding. We have plenty of other things to stress about.)

    • Anon

      This is a great point. My car isn’t nearly that old – but I’m at a place where I don’t particularly care what happens to it cosmetically. I just chalk it up as the cost of doing business in a dense-ish city.

    • navyard

      My car was perfect until I moved into the district. Now it looks like crap. The only thing I will do differently next time is get a smaller car and uglier. If I could have metal spikes sticking out of it, I would do that too!

      • NH Ave Hiker

        I’ve kept mine about the same since I moved here 1.5 years ago – thanks to having a wide street, ample parking, and consistently parking in spots that abut alley entrances so no one can park behind me (I’m obsessive)

        • Anonymous

          How long does it take you to find parking?!?
          No way in hell I’d buy a new’ish car without getting a private off-street spot. I’d chalk that up as the Price of Having Nice Things in DC.

    • Anonymous

      Yup. This was exactly my reasoning for buying a cheap 18 year old Subaru back in September. I knew I’d be street parking it and didn’t want to stress about idiots scratching up a new, shiny car. Plus, it has a real bumper – not one of those unibody panels that matches the color of the rest of the car. Bump me while parallel parking at your own peril….

    • DupontDC

      Same. Mine isn’t nice at all, but it gets me where I need to go and saves me a car payment. Also, I think having an older/crappier car would deter thieves from breaking into your car. Most cars I see with smashed windows are nicer, newer cars.

    • DF

      We bought a brand new Honda Fit and still don’t care about it. We’ll drive it til it dies or trade it in for whatever $$ we can get. We really don’t care what the car looks like dings and all as long as it drives fine.

  • Man, that sucks. But I definitely wouldn’t park a brand new Golf R on the street in the first place.

    • Anonymous

      Don’t park Nice Cars in public in DC if you want them to remain nice. Just common sense.

  • Read the ticket carefully and check everything on it. A few years ago, my husband and I got a $500 ticket for an “obstructed” license plate (by a clear plastic cover, which we discovered the District made illegal because they supposedly make the Iicense plate unreadable to red light cameras, which I don’t think is even true). I discovered it was a moving violation, and the ticket was dismissed on appeal because the car was ticketed inappropriately.

    • Meant to mention that the car was parked at the time, hence the dismissal.

      • OP

        Thank you for the advice!

    • textdoc

      I thought that was the whole reason people put clear domed covers on their license plates (to try to defeat speed cameras, etc.). No? If not, what’s their intended use?

      • Dunno, ours came from the dealer with the plastic cover so we used it. Seemed like a sensible thing at the time…

  • meerswan

    I bought a really sweet Bumper Bully Bully to protect my Bumper Bully from getting scuffed up. i really recommend it.

    • textdoc

      Actual LOL!

  • AJ

    I may or may not be more likely to tap a bullied bumper when trying to get out of a tight spot.


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