Winnipeggers who drive with dirty or obscured licence plates on their vehicles could be hit with steep fines.

City police say drivers who fail to wipe away mud or snow from their licence plates can end up with a $113 ticket, but motorists who deliberately obscure their plates in order to beat red-light cameras face a stiffer penalty.

Const. Eric Hofley says some scofflaws use dirt and snow to hide their licence plate numbers on purpose, while others use plastic shields.

"Officers are trained to look for that sort of thing," he told CBC News.

"If you are seen to have it, they will pull you over. They will seize that item and you will be issued a ticket in excess of $200."

Hofley said nearly 200 people received tickets for trying to cheat red-light cameras last year.

Winnipeg resident Glenda Legadi has been taking smartphone photos of drivers' dirt-covered licence plates in recent days, since she saw a hit and run.

"He's trying to beat the red light and then finally he had an accident. He crashed on someone," she said.

On another occasion, Legadi said she saw a driver narrowly miss a child who was crossing the street.

"I feel so frustrated. I can't see the plate number and they're running so fast," she said.

Hofley said obscured licence plates could actually leave hit-and-run victims responsible for paying the insurance deductible.

"If that vehicle that's just struck you and is fleeing has a dirty plate, and you're unable to obtain it, then you're without recourse," he said.