February 21, 2005
By SHASTA CLARK
6 News Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- In about a year, the city of Knoxville will have traffic cameras at busy intersections to help catch motorists running red lights. But there's a product that a company claims can help you slip by the cameras.
A spray you can put on your license plate is clear to the naked eye but not to cameras. The spray is illegal in the city of Knoxville. However, it's legally for sale on the Internet.
Jacky Casteel sprayed Photoblocker, made by PhantomPlate, on his new Harley Davidson's license plate, saying, "I'm worried about getting run over on my bike."
Casteel says he's not putting it on his cars, just his motorcycle. "I'm not a speeder. I'm not a law breaker. That's not the reason I'm getting it. I just don't want to get run over on my bike."
Casteel says he's worried that he'll have to stop quickly at a red light, to avoid getting caught by a traffic camera. He fears if there's a car behind him, it won't stop, instead rear ending him.
"If he's that concerned, take the $30 spray and spray it all over the rear end of his motorcycle, not the license plate. Let it reflect the whole motorcycle," says Knoxville Police Deputy Chief Don Green.
Casteel bought Photoblocker from a company on the Internet. The company sent 6 News pictures and its promise that if you spray it on your license plate, it will reflect a camera flash, whiting out your license number so the camera can't read it.
But Knoxville police say you can still get caught if you use Photoblocker in the city limits, since it's illegal. "At night, an officer's headlights, if it hits a license plate that's been treated with that chemical spray, it will also reflect back and whiten out the license plate."
6 News tested Photoblocker, according to the directions, by spraying it on a license plate, then shining lights on it to simulate an officer's headlights. However, you could still read the plate.
6 News also tested the company's claim that the spray whites out license plates under a camera's flash. It worked on Casteel's Harley. He says legal or not, he thinks it's a good buy. "Like I say, if it'll save me one ticket, it's paid for itself. That's the way I look at it."
The state of Tennessee is reviewing the spray and may make it illegal statewide.
If you're caught using Photoblocker in Knoxville, there's a $50 fine and police will confiscate your license plate as evidence.