Sean Tierney
Normally, we'd blur out the license plate on a photo like this, but that would kind of miss the point.

We'll Take D00 D00

Yesterday we helped you through the Chron's online quiz for icy driving. The cold weather's still coming, so be sure to bone up.

But we here at HouStoned like to take the long view when it comes to helping you out on the roads, and we just found (yes, yes, it's actually been on the Internet for a couple of months) a nifty trick for defeating those red-light cameras. An Arizona blogger named Sean Tierney has invented what he calls the Vehicular Thomas Crowne Affair.

First off, like any good philosopher, Tierney offers up some not-so-ideal solutions: You can obfuscate the plate with a reflective spray, but that could get you in trouble. You could buy a radar or laser jammer to disrupt the cameras, but that also could get you in trouble. You could goo up the cameras with a paint gun, but, come on, that'll really get you off on the wrong foot with the cops. Or you could even overpay the fine to help clog up the system, but that kind of civil disobedience could get expensive.

And then Tierney offers the real solution:

Think: How does the ticket find its way to you? The camera snaps the photo... someone has to look at the pictures and reference that plate number to a plate in the system... then that person mails the ticket to the address on file. Without physically altering your license plate to obscure it, how else could you make it difficult for that person to send the ticket? Simple:

Order a vanity plate with a bunch of characters that are confusingly similar in appearance.

Tierney suggests getting a plate with a bunch of zeros and Os and Ds, which will be almost indiscernible to the poor sap who's got to figure out whose car it is. "Most plates have up to seven alphanumeric chars," he says, abbreviating "characters" like a good geek. "Using O's, 0's and D's there are a total of 2187 possible permutations for each state."

Dang, that sounds like a good idea. — Keith Plocek

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