An actual CHP 11-99 Foundation board member gives the definitive answer, and it’s not what you think.
You’ve often seen cars in California with a license plate frame that reads, “Member” on top and “CHP 11-99 Foundation” on the bottom. And, for those supposedly in the know, urban myths about these special license plate frames all purport to say their owners essentially have a “get out of jail free card” for speeding tickets, minor traffic violations if they get pulled over. But really, is that story true?
Gordon McCall, an actual CHP 11-99 Foundation Member took some time to promote “The Quail, a motorsports gathering” on Spike’s Car Radio ahead of Monterey Sports Car Week and, before the interview wrapped up, Spike asked if there’s an air of truth to the rumors surrounding those CHP 11-99 Foundation plates.
First, a little background information.
11-99 is radio code, a lot like 10-20, used by police to indicate an officer needs help.
The CHP 11-99 foundation is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit, charitable organization whose mission is to provide emergency assistance to California Highway Patrol employees and their families, and scholarships to dependents of CHP employees.”
If you feel so moved to support this noble foundation, you can become a lifetime member with a one-time, lump sum donation. The minimum amount to receive those supposed magical plates is $3,000. Here are the membership levels and an example of said plates.
Here’s what McCall had to say on the matter.
“I grew up here in town with Joe Farah who ended up becoming the commissioner of the California Highway Patrol…we spent a lot of time talking about the perception of those plate frames and ,”Does it get you a get out of jail pass?”
And the answer is no.
It’s really interesting talking to the officers because they’re given the flexibility to use discretion all day long regarding friends, neighbors, school teachers, doctors, other police officers. It’s there call.
If someone’s doing something stupid and they’ve got that license plate frame on it’s a greater wrath that comes down on them for doing so.If anybody should no better it’s a member of that foundation.
We’ve also been known to revoke memberships if that angle has been abused. We take them back, if you read the back of your (11-99) plate frame, it says it’s the property of the foundation.
You don’t become a member of that foundation with any other reason than to support a great cause and I’ll leave it at that.”
Going back to CHP 11-99 foundation’s mission for existing, CHP officers have unfortunately lost their lives in the line of duty because of scofflaws with disregard of others’ safety. To then expect preferential treatment when you yourself are breaking the laws these officers are risking their lives to enforce is an insult to the foundation you allege to support.
As McCall hints at, these plates make you an ambassador of the foundation, its existence a reminder to take extra care on the road.