Every state in the country requires a vehicle to have at least one license plate attached to the vehicle. Some states require a front license plate, but others do not have this regulation. Vehicles in these states will only have a rear-mounted license plate.
State license plate laws center around the issue of whether or not a vehicle needs to have a front license plate. Some owners of sports cars or luxury vehicles prefer not to have a front license plate, as it can compromise the look and front structure of the car. Owners of classic cars also struggle with the front plate laws, as it can be impossible to put one on. Most states do require it though. State license plate laws exist in 30 states.
The 29 states with state license plate laws are:
There are 21 states that do require a front license plate. They are as follows:
Ohio removed its front license plate requirement in 2020. Alaska did the same in 2022.
In states where front plates are required, there are penalties if found driving without one. A ticket is the most common penalty for driving without a front license plate. Sometimes, the driver may get a verbal warning to remedy the problem right away if they have a good driving record. Fines for driving without a front license plate are typically about $200.
Some states also offer what is called a fix-it ticket. That means that if a driver verifies the plate when it is put on, typically with your local police department, the driver can have the ticket canceled. This is an ideal solution, as the ticket will then have no impact on the receiver's driving record. The location where the car is parked when the citation occurs when parked could have an additional effect. A vehicle parked incorrectly or on the street could incur additional municipal fines that can start at $10 or $25.
The kind of car that is being driven is never a defense to avoiding front plate license laws. Some car owners have argued that the front license plate prevents the optimum performance of the vehicle, but the law tends to ignore such arguments. In these cases, car owners are best served by a mechanic or professional car modifier that can mount the plate in the least intrusive legally compliant way.