States That Require Front License Plates:
There are currently twenty-nine states, including Washington D.C., that require you to have a front license plate mounted on your vehicle.
In 2020, Ohio removed its front plate requirement.
Here's the complete list of states that currently require a front license plate:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
States That Do Not Require a Front License Plate:
There are currently 21 states that do not require a front license plate. Even though every state requires at least one license plate to be mounted to each motor vehicle, each state that does not have a front plate requirement requires that a license plate be mounted in the rear of the vehicle.
The following is the list of states that do not currently require a front-mounted license plate:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Laws can vary drastically from state to state. Driving and vehicle ownership laws especially are ones that are highly variable, depending on where you live. If you never move, you may never have to worry about laws from other places. Many people do move, and laws change; therefore, it is important to know how laws change, when they change, and where they are enforced.
License plate laws are among the simplest and most controversial vehicle-related laws in the country. Over half of all states in the U.S. are “two-plate-states.” This means that you must have a license plate mounted on both the front of the vehicle and on the rear of the vehicle. Not having license plates properly installed or present when required could result in penalties.
For as trivial as this law might sound, there are some benefits to having a plate on the front of the vehicle. There are also some drawbacks. Every state requires a license plate to be mounted to the rear of the vehicle, but the law is not as simple as that. Come with us as we dive deeper into front license plate laws and requirements so that you can stay informed.
Front License Plate Pros and Cons:
There are several common complaints that drivers typically make concerning front-mounted license plates. Some of them are warranted, and others are not. Regardless, there are some real benefits to having license plates mounted to the front of a vehicle. Naturally, there are also some drawbacks.
License plates are designed to be reflective. This makes them easier to see at night or during the dusk hours when the sun begins to set. A license plate’s reflectivity is one argument that proponents of front license plates make. Even though they seem small when mounted to a vehicle, they are fairly sizeable objects, and they can be a great point of visibility.
Their clear visibility aids law enforcement offices that use license plate reading devices. Toll booths that utilize license plate readers are also becoming more widespread across the country. Toll booth attendants are slowly being replaced by technology for the sake of saving states that they would otherwise spend on wages and benefits.
In addition to the license plate readers used by law enforcement and by government agencies for speeding, checking registration stickers, or tolling vehicles, having a front plate can help law enforcement officials identify stolen vehicles quickly.
Visible front plates can also help regular citizens who witness things like hit-and-runs, suspicious vehicles, and other untimely events more easily identify offenders. Easily visible plates can help onlookers effectively provide details about specific vehicles involved.
Revenue generation is one of the prime movers in any decision, consideration, or law. Having a license plate that is easily readable from the front and back of any vehicle makes it easier for agencies using license plate reading technology to spot at toll booths and during traffic enforcement.
Perhaps a less important factor in having a front license plate is the ability to purchase a vanity plate and express your own style. Vanity plates are license plates that are customizable with a message or background. Some plates even come with an extra fee that is put toward a cause or charity.
Each state offers vanity plates at different costs through each state’s DMV, and they are more popular in some states than others. If you can have two vanity plates instead of one, you can theoretically express yourself twice as well with the plates of your choosing.
One of the largest complaints against front license plates is that they ruin the aesthetic of a car. For many people, a vehicle is not just a tool to get from one place to another. They want to keep their vehicles in the nicest condition possible, and part of that is keeping them clean, presentable, and uncluttered.
It might sound silly, but if you are one who wants to keep your car looking as nice as possible, you get it.
Advanced Safety Features:
Advancements in safety technology are great. They help keep vehicles safer, and therefore, they keep everyone on the road safer. The problem is that systems like automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and pedestrian detection use cameras and sensors that are often mounted to the front of a vehicle.
Depending on the make and model of a vehicle, a front license plate could hinder some of these systems from working optimally or from working altogether. Manufacturers have had to compensate by cluttering up other areas of a vehicle’s grille and front bumper. This has again led to some undesirable aesthetics and interesting vehicle design. At worst, it prevents some of these systems from being as effective as possible.
On the flip side of the coin, states without front license plate laws are potentially missing out on that revenue that is easily generated at toll booths. If a license plate reader cannot read a plate, the driver will not get a bill. It is as simple as that.
Another consideration is that it costs more money to manufacture two license plates rather than just one. The extra cost of the extra plate is often said to offset the fees associated with owning and driving a vehicle in the first place. Depending on the state, this may or may not actually be true, but the fact remains that two cost more than one.
Because of some of the controversies and complaints associated with having front license plates, more people are going to naturally try to skirt the laws, find a loophole, or ignore front license plate laws altogether.
Those who attempt to get around the front license plate laws can certainly cause headaches for law enforcement officials whose job it is to enforce the laws. Additionally, those who want to get around the front plate laws can often get frustrated if or when they get penalized for something they feel is trivial. Many install retractable license plate brackets to get around front plate requirements.
License Plate Laws:
Even though state laws vary, there are some general laws that apply to most places when it comes to both front and rear license plates. The following are some overarching guidelines regarding license plate mounting, location, and visibility that are applicable in most states:
The most obvious law that every state has is that your license plate must be visible. This goes for both one-plate and two-plate states. The difference between front and rear plates is illumination at night. Rear license plates are usually required to be illuminated, but each state requires plates to be clearly visible from different distances, regardless of illumination requirements.
License plates are required to be uncovered. Any license plate brackets, tinted covers, or frames that obscure license plate numbers, registration stickers, or state information are a no-go.
Finally, most states require that a license plate is in reasonable condition. An overly beat-up, scratched, or dented plate could cause the reflective background to be less effective and less visible. Some states also have laws against altering or damaging the plate in any way beyond having customizable numbers.
License plates should be securely fastened to a sturdy part of the passenger vehicle in each location at which they are required. Zip ties and duct tape are great for some things but attaching a plate via one of those methods will potentially get you a citation in most locations. Most states also require that you do not mount your plate upside down.
Some vehicles do not come with a front license plate mounting location, but there are often aftermarket or OEM brackets that you can get that affix to your front bumper. Many people even purchase brackets that you can screw into the front tow hook location if your vehicle has one.
Beyond front and rear license plate mounting laws, there are other license plate requirements pertaining to the location of the plate. The most common of which is the height at which plates must be mounted. Most places have a maximum and minimum height at which plates can be mounted.
If you mount your plate too high or low, you might get a ticket. Additionally, “mounting” the plate in your front or rear window is often a punishable offense, even though it is commonly practiced in some places. Keeping the plate inside the vehicle would ultimately fall back on the visibility requirements each state has.
Of course, not having a plate mounted anywhere when it should be is also a punishable offense. Some exceptions can be made for temporary plates. They are often paper rather than metal, and can sometimes be taped on the inside of a window.
Penalties for License Plate Non-Compliance:
Just as different states have different mounting laws, each state has different penalties for various license plate violations. They can range from severe to minor, and the same law in one state can lead to much more serious consequences for the same law in another state.
In the case of front license plate violations, the spectrum is quite large. Some officers in some states will issue a fix-it ticket or warning for first-time violators. A fix-it ticket is essentially a placeholder ticket. Once you have fixed the issue that prompted the ticket, you can report the issue fixed, an official will verify the fix, and you can often have the ticket canceled.
Many officers will skip the warnings and go straight to fines. Not having a front license plate where one is required can result in a $200 fine in most places. Most other license plate violations will result in a more minor citation or a fix-it ticket, especially if the violation is clearly not intentional. Fortunately, most license plate violations will not increase your car insurance rates.
Keep in mind that if you do receive a fix-it ticket for a license plate violation, the conditions of the ticket will likely vary from location to location. You can clarify the timeframe required in which the fix must occur, how to get the fix inspected, and the final steps of canceling the ticket through your local law enforcement office.
While some drivers crave the sleek and streamlined look of a plate-free ride, California requires you to have both a front and rear license plate to drive legally.Can you get pulled over for no front license plate in Idaho? ›
Getting caught without a necessary front license plate on your car will result in an equipment infraction and a $67 fine. Residents new to Idaho must register and title their vehicle within 90 days of moving to the state.Why do Tesla's not have front license plates? ›
Another large group says they don't want to go through the hassle of installing a special bracket to affix a front license plate to the car or don't want to use the current stick-on bracket. A few owners claimed the front plate interfered with Tesla's auto-pilot self-driving feature.How many states in the US require a front license plate? ›
All states and the District of Columbia require a rear license plate and 30 states and D.C. require front license plates.Can you drive around without a front license plate? ›
Driving without a valid rear license plate is illegal in all 50 states. Some states, however, don't require a front license plate. The only exception for driving without a permanent license plate is for a brief window after you've purchased a new car and you're waiting for your permanent plates.Does Florida require a front license plate? ›
Bill, of Orlando, asked, “Are front plates legal or required in Florida?" "Only 31 states in the United States require two license plates on your vehicle, but Florida is not one of them," Trooper Steve said. "In Florida, you are only required to have a license plate on the rear of your vehicle."
According to California law, all vehicles registered within the state must have a license plate on the front and the rear.Why is there no front license plate in Florida? ›
Since you're registered in Florida, you are not required to have two license plates. He also said vanity plates are allowed on the front of your car since Florida does not recognize the front plate area as a required display for a license plate.Is Illinois getting rid of front license plates? ›
Yes, the front registration plate is required on vehicles registered in Illinois.
Yes, there is no restriction in Idaho Code that prohibits anyone from riding in the back of a pickup truck.What if my car doesn t have a front license plate holder in Texas? ›
Motorists who do not have a front license plate risk incurring a Class C misdemeanor charge, punishable by fine not to exceed $500.What does it mean to have a black license plate in California? ›
Barr wondered whether they are old license plates or new ones. A: These black and gold plates are called Legacy Plates, one of a handful of special interest plates available for a fee to California drivers.How much does it cost to have a black license plate in California? ›
The new plates, which will cost $50, can be ordered by anyone, regardless of their car's age. Black plates can be personalized, like other plates, and plates will also be available for motorcycles.How much is a ticket for no front license plate in NJ? ›
Yes, New Jersey is a two-plate state, which means you need a front plate and a back plate mandatorily. Driving without a front plate is just an invitation for John Law to give you a hefty fine – as much as $200!Why does Texas have a front license plate? ›
The Answer: A total of 31 states require front license plates on vehicles. Texas is one of them. The main reason is for security and crime solving. A front license plate makes a vehicle more identifiable on security cameras.Why do American cars not have front license plates? ›
Why do American cars have only one license plate? Most states do require two license plates on a car or light truck, one front and one rear. 19 states require only the rear plate. For those states that require only the rear plate, the stated reasoning is usually cost savings.How do you put a front license plate on a car without holes? ›
If you have a front bracket, just screw your license plate onto it. If you don't have one, you might consider using an adhesive-mounted bracket or a bracket made specifically for the shape of your model's bumper.Do cops care about front license plate California? ›
In California, it is LEGAL for a vehicle registered outside of California to be driven without a front license plate. Police officers cannot pull that vehicle over if it does not have a front license plate unless the police know that a particular state requires both a front and a rear license plate.Can you get a ticket for not having a front license plate in Colorado? ›
So, it can be a problem for new car owners as well. A person who violates the front plate law commits a class B traffic infraction with a fine between $15 to $100.
It's not uncommon to see motorists without a front plate on their vehicles, or possibly with the plate on the dashboard. Both of those options are vehicle code violations subject to a traffic stops by law enforcement.When did Florida stop requiring front license plates? ›
Plates are currently issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Only rear plates have been required since 1922.Does Tesla provide front license plate holder? ›
To accommodate jurisdictions that require a license plate on the front of your vehicle, Model Y is equipped with a license plate bracket. This bracket conforms to the shape of your vehicle's front bumper and is adhered to it using strong adhesive.Are car meets illegal in Florida? ›
Since car meets are illegal in Florida, it would make sense that people wouldn't want to get caught seeing as it can result in fines and arrest.How much is a fix it ticket for no front license plate in California? ›
What Is the Penalty of No Front License Plate? A License Plate Display Failure ticket will cost around $196.Why do some cars in California not have front license plates? ›
California issues two plates to all vehicles that aren't motorcycles, certain models of commercial truck tractors, trailers or special equipment. All other vehicles are issued two plates unless it is base-plated in another state, according to the California DMV.What are the rugged 19 states? ›
The “Rugged Nineteen” states that require only one plate include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico. North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.Why does Dexter have front license plates? ›
Most cars are shown with front Florida license plates. Florida vehicles do not have front license plates, only rear ones. All the coffee cups used through-out the series all come from the chain Smart & Final based in California. There are no Smart & Final stores in Florida.Do you need a front bumper in Florida? ›
Owners of automobiles and pickup trucks are required to have both front and rear bumpers mounted within certain height levels. Height limitations are governed by the new shipping weight of the vehicle; not the modified or altered weight.Can Illinois suspend your license plates? ›
No one may drive the vehicle until the suspension is removed. For more information regarding this suspension, please contact the Public Inquiry Division at (800) 252-8980. If you want to request a hearing to contest the suspension, you must contact the Department of Administrative Hearings.
State law requires that when WisDOT issues two license plates, both plates must be attached to the vehicle; one on the front and one on the rear. The plates must be maintained in a legible condition and displayed so that they can be seen and read.How long can you drive without plates in Illinois? ›
You will be issued a Temporary Registration Permit (TRP) on a new vehicle purchase, which is valid for 90 days. The TRP must be displayed in place of the license plate on the back of the vehicle until receiving your vanity or personalized license plates.Can you get pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt in Idaho? ›
Idaho law requires everyone in a vehicle to wear safety restraints. Other provisions under the law include: Adult violators, 18 and older, are subject to a $10 citation. An adult driver is ticketed for passengers younger than 18 who are not properly restrained.Do truckers have beds in their trucks? ›
Are there beds in 18-wheelers? Yes, when you're a professional trucker and you need to sleep in your truck, the sleeper cab can provide you with a cozy mattress that will allow you to get the shut-eye that's necessary to rejuvenate your mind and body.Can truck drivers sleep on the side of the road? ›
No, truck drivers should not sleep on the side of the road. Not only can drivers get ticketed for doing this, but it can also lead to accidents for the driver and other motorists. Drivers who sleep in their trucks usually park at either: A company facility.Can I display my front license plate on my dashboard in Texas? ›
Further, if an individual does not wish to drill into the bumper to hang the license plate, the individual must display the license plate on the dashboard of the passenger side of the vehicle.Is it illegal to wrap your license plate in Texas? ›
Are license plate covers legal in Texas? Texas law prohibits license plate covers by law. You are not allowed to use anything that is blurring or reflective that damages the readability of the state name or numbers. The state also prohibits using stickers, emblems, or symbols not authorized by the State of Texas.Are license plate frames illegal in Texas? ›
According to the Texas Transportation Code, a license plate frame only violates the law if it “impairs the readability of the name of the state where the vehicle is registered, or the letters or numbers of the license plate at any time.” A frame that covers the words “The Lone Star State” does not violate the law.Can you legally change the color of your license plate in California? ›
A: Any modification is illegal, according to Section 4464 of the California Vehicle Code: “A person shall not display upon a vehicle a license plate that's altered from its original markings.”What does blue tag in California mean? ›
The CHP is authorized to place a new VIN on the unit, (blue tagging). To see the CHP, you must be referred to them by the DMV. You cannot drive up to a CHP and get a VIN verification on the spot, for the most part.
You may order any plate for any year of vehicle, but the number of digits will correspond to your current registration. For example, if you have a current seven-digit white plate, your new black, yellow, or blue plate will also have seven digits.Is it legal not to have a front number plate? ›
As a standard rule, all vehicles moving on the road must have number plates in the front and back. And, that's not all about it. There are other specific rules that you need to put into observation regarding the number plate color, character's color, and the materials used.Is it legal in Texas to not have a front license plate? ›
According to Texas law, all vehicles must have a license plate on the front and the rear. Those who do not adhere to the law can face a fine of up to $200. The law does specify an exception to the rule for road tractors, motorcycles, trailers, and semitrailers.Why do American cars not have front number plates? ›
Why don't cars in the US have number plates in front? It varies by state. 31 states require front and rear plates, while 19 states only require rear plates. Rear plates were invented first and some states just never decided to require front plates.Are 3D number plates illegal? ›
3D Number Plates – The Legal Details. To clear up any confusion, 3D plates are 100% LEGAL if you stick to the outlined rules from the DVLA.Why does the Queen's car have no number plate? ›
The Queen Didn't Need Number Plates
And she wasn't averse to buying personalised number plates, along with other members of the royal family. The Queen owned the rare 'A7' plate, one of the UK's first registration numbers issued in 1903.