Which States Require Front License Plates?
Let’s delve deeper into front license plate laws and requirements.
States That Require a Front License Plate
Currently, twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia require you to have a front license plate attached to your vehicle. In 2020, Ohio removed its front plate requirement.
Here's the list of states that currently require front license plates:
State-by-state plate laws can vary significantly. For example, some states require you to remove a license plate when you sell your car, while others tell you to leave it on. Some states have 7 characters on their license plates, while others have six.
Good thing we're here to sort it all out for you.
Front Plate Laws
License plates must be visible at all times. Any brackets, covers, or frames that obscure license plate numbers, registration stickers, or state information are prohibited.
If your plate is scratched, dented, or damaged, you will have to apply for a replacement license plate.
You might get a ticket if you mount your plate too high or too low. Even though it is common practice in some areas, mounting the plate in your front or rear window is often a punishable offense.
It is also illegal to drive without a license plate when one is required. Temporary license plates are an exception. They are often paper tags that can be taped to the inside of your windshield.
Read our complete guide to attaching a license plate for more.
Most Common Penalties for License Plate Non Compliance
1. Fines are the most common punishment for license plate violations. In some cases, fines may begin relatively low but can escalate for repeated violations.
2. Failure to comply with license plate regulations may result in a traffic citation or ticket. These citations frequently carry additional fines in addition to the initial penalty for driving without a front plate. Multiple citations can result in more severe penalties, such as increased fines, license suspension, or even mandatory court appearances.
3. In some states, failure to comply with license plate regulations can get your vehicle registration suspended. This means you won't be able to legally drive the vehicle until the registration is reinstated, which usually entails paying any outstanding fines, correcting the license plate violation, and possibly providing proof of compliance.
4. In more serious cases of license plate noncompliance, authorities may impound your vehicle. This happens when a violation is deemed significant or repeated, posing a risk to public safety. You will most likely be required to pay impound fees, provide proof of compliance, and settle any outstanding fines in order to retrieve the impounded vehicle.
5. License plate violations can result in points being added to your driving record. These points can result in higher insurance premiums and, if accumulated to a certain threshold, can result in your driver's license being suspended or revoked.
To avoid these penalties, it is important to become familiar with your state's regulations and ensure that your license plates are fully compliant.
Pros and Cons of Having a Front License Plate
Buy Or Sell a Car Online With PrivateAuto
Interested in buying a used car? Browse used vehicles for sale!
Front Plates FAQ
How do I mount my new license plates?
Before attaching a license plate, make sure that the plate bracket is properly secured to the vehicle.
1. The license plate bracket should be placed so that the bottom edge of the license plate is level with the bottom of the car's bumper. Once the license plate bracket is in place, line up the mounting hole on the license plate with the mounting hole in the bracket.
2. Be sure to use any bolts or screws that came with the license plate bracket.
3. After all screws or bolts are tightened, double-check that they are snug by giving the license plate a firm tug.
4. Once the plate is securely in place, you will need to apply the registration sticker from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or your state’s equivalent organization. This sticker must be placed on the rear license plate and renewed every year.
5. With the license plate now properly attached, your car will be legal to drive on public roads.
6. If your state requires a front plate, you will need to install it before you can legally drive your car.
7. In most cases, it is best to attach the front plate to the bumper and the rear plate to the trunk lid or tail light assembly.
If you’re wondering what to do with your old plates, one option is to simply send the old plates back to one of your state’s Department of Motor Vehicle office locations.
If you need more help, make sure you read our license plate mounting guide.