Do You Need a Front License Plate? Learn All the License Plate Laws


If you have ever wondered whether you need a front license plate, you should click here for not only answers on this but also other license plate rules.

Are you worried that a front license plate will turn the front end of your $300,000 sports car into an ugly duckling? Well, you will be happy to know that you are not alone. A vast majority of car owners dislike a front license plate.

Problem is, in certain states, it is a rule. In fact, it is critical for law enforcement, parking, tolling, and border security. Do you need a front license plate in your state?

Keep reading and find out more about the license plate laws and what states require you to return your license plates.

Do You Need a Front License Plate?

Yes, you need a front license plate if you live in Washington DC and 31 other states. Among the 31 states, you have California, Washington State, New York, Virginia, and Texas.

You also have the “Rugged Nineteen” states where you need one plate. A few of these states include Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Arizona, and Oklahoma.

License Plate Laws

There are a few basic laws that every car owner should follow. These laws are straightforward and help to ensure that your car is easy to identify. Some of these laws include:

  • Making sure your license plates are clearly visible and valid
  • Have them mounted on the car in a position that is free of obstruction
  • Ensure all other identifying markers are visible

To ensure the plates are visible at all times, keep your car clean. Always make sure the plates are free of mud, dirt, and debris. Don’t use plastic covers to keep your plates clean.

Certain states prohibit this. Why? They cause reflection when driving which hampers the safety of other drivers on the road.

Do you need a front license plate in California? Yes, you do. The state of California requires all vehicle owners to have a front and back license plates.  Although scooters and mopeds don’t need a front license, even though you can be charged with DUI when riding a scooter under the influence of alcohol.

Want to personalize your front and back license plates? Get to know about these rules on number plate fonts to be on the safe side.

Penalty for License Plate Violation

If you violate any license plate laws, police officers will issue you with a traffic ticket. These tickets are also referred to as fix-it tickets in other states. The ticket allows the driver to go free with a promise that they will fix the plate.

In some states, law enforcement officers will indicate a penalty in the ticket. The fine can range between $100 to $200. If it’s a repeat offense, the penalties will increase. For instance, the driver will have to pay higher fines or even have his or her license suspended.

In some cases, the driver may have to hand over the license plates at the DMV. As such, the driver will no longer operate that motor vehicle. This is common where the driver fails to furnish the DMV with proof of driver’s insurance.

What States Require You to Return Your License Plates?

The number of US states that require you to return your license plates is 19. They include Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, and New Jersey. Others include New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Washington DC.

If you want to return your license plates and you live in one of the states above, contact the motor vehicle department. On the other hand, visit the state’s website to learn the procedure for returning the license plate.

Some states may need you to drop off the plates in person while others will need you to mail the plates.

Is Switching License Plates Illegal?

Transferring license plates from a motor vehicle no longer in use to a new motor vehicle is legal as long as the car owner pays the appropriate fee. It only becomes illegal if the vehicle owner fails to pay the required fee.

Understanding the License Plate Laws

Do you need a front license plate? Yes, you do. A front license plate is a requirement in 31 US states and Washington DC to drive a motor vehicle. Failure to display front license plates will result in severe penalties if it’s a repeat offense.

We hope the information we have shared on license plate laws will ensure you are able to comply with the law.


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