Southern California -- this just in

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A license to park, anywhere and anytime

April 9, 2008 | 10:47 am

With_a_special_license_plate_this_w Ever had a parking ticket? (Or three or four...) Then you're not behind the wheel of one of the nearly 1 million lucky cars or trucks or motorcycles whose license plates put their drivers above the law, the OC Reg reports.

The plates belong to registered drivers who are part of a state program that hides their addresses on DMV records. Designed 30 years ago to protect cops from criminals, it's been expanded to include 1,800 agencies and 996,716 vehicles. Some of the perks, according the story in the Register:

•Vehicles with protected license plates can run through dozens of intersections controlled by red light cameras and breeze along the 91 toll lanes with impunity.

•Parking citations issued to vehicles with protected plates are often dismissed because the process necessary to pierce the shield is too cumbersome.

•Some patrol officers let drivers with protected plates off with a warning because the plates signal that the drivers are "one of their own" or related to someone who is.

So who's protected? Police, of course, but also dispatchers and museum guards. And their spouses and families. This despite the fact that DMV info is confidential.

You can read the rest of the OC Register's story here.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times