POLICE are clamping down on motorists who do not have acceptable number plates, new figures show.

Figures from Dorset Police show that 55 people were caught by officers with illegal plates in 2017, one of the highest in the country.

Drivers are at risk of being handed a £1,000 fine if their number plate is obscured, missing or does not comply with DVLA regulations.

According to the DVLA regulations, number plates must contain two letters, two numbers and three letters chosen at random.

Letters and numbers must be displayed clearly and cannot be re-arranged or altered otherwise drivers will be hit with a fine and fail their MOT test.

More than 8,000 traffic cameras across England are also used to take 30 million "reads" of number plates every day which can help to identify offenders.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “In 2001, the rules regarding the display of registration plates were updated so vehicles would comply with a new standard.

"This included a new mandatory font and required any stylised writing, such as italics, or plates where the fixing bolts could alter the reading of the plate, had to be changed.

“More than a decade and a half on though, 55 drivers in the Dorset area missed that announcement and felt the long arm of the law."

Drivers are also being warned that they could be unwittingly breaking the law if they don't buy from appropriate traders.

Ben Leonard, managing director of personalised number plate specialists Click4Reg, said: "A growing number of people are opting for personalised number plates, but if you buy from a market stall, for example, you can’t be sure that the plate will meet with all the DVLA regulations."

"The only way to be sure is to buy from a registered number plate supplier."

Commenting on the figures, a DVLA spokesman said: “Number plates must conform with the regulations which set out how a number plate should be lawfully displayed on a vehicle.

"It is an offence to obscure, render or allow a number plate so

that it becomes not easily distinguishable."

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs Council, added: “We would like to remind motorists that driving with a number plate displaying characters that have been rearranged, altered or obscured is a criminal offence and could result in a fine of up to £1,000.

"Registration numbers should be displayed correctly and clearly so that police, enforcement agencies and members of the public can identify a vehicle in case of a road traffic collision, for crime detection and for enforcement purposes."