Why does Ohio require front license plates?
Why does Ohio require front license plates? It is frustrating because many new, modern cars aren’t designed for a front plate, making installation awkward and often times unsightly. The Ohio BMV claims that it is for “safety,“ but I was able to access other states that have removed the requirement, and have not seen a reduction in safety in any way, shape, or form. Can you help clarify this?
The Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio State Highway Patrol support the two-license plate requirement because of three major considerations:
: The front license plate is the only highly reflective item on the front of a motor vehicle. At night, this feature allows drivers to spot oncoming left-of-center vehicles with one headlight out or both headlights not lit (drunk drivers occasionally fail to turn on their headlights). It also allows motorists to spot vehicles at night which have become disabled on the road due to a crash or mechanical failure.2) Crime Prevention/ Criminal Apprehension
: From school bus drivers who observe the front license plate of oncoming motor vehicles which pass their stopped school bus to neighborhood block watch groups which rely upon both front and rear license plates to report suspicious vehicles, the front license plate is both a crime deterrent and tool to apprehend.3) Law Enforcement Investigatory Tool
: When investigating hit/skip crashes, law enforcement officers rely upon eyewitness accounts and physical evidence to track down drivers who damage property, injure, and sometimes kill with a complete lack of social responsibility. The front license plate is sometimes the only lead officers possess. There are countless cases of major crimes which were solved because of a front license plate violation (In 2001, Ohio troopers were able to capture a van stolen by two teenagers after their initial traffic stop for no front license plate). The front license plate proves critical as a law enforcement tool in daily auto larceny investigation, DUI enforcement, and even bank robbery and homicide investigations.
Currently, 31 states have both a front and a rear license plate requirement and two states (Connecticut and Massachusetts) have recently returned to using two license plates. Because license plates are cut from large sheets of metal, labor costs are not significantly less for producing one plate instead of two. One cost which may rise however are insurance deductibles which will be paid by innocent motorists who are involved in hit/skip crashes which can no longer be solved without a front license plate.
It is the state law. The BMV does not make this decision. The only exempt vehicles from a front tag are dealer tags, motorcycles, and semi trucks. Most of the time, if you take your “newer” vehicles to the dealer, they will mount the front plates on for you.Section 4503.21 of the Revised Code: Display of license plates and validation stickers or temporary license placard or windshield sticker
No person who is the owner or operator of a motor vehicle, shall fail to display in plain view, on the front and rear of the motor vehicle, the distinctive number and registration mark, including any county identification sticker and any validation sticker issued under sections 4503.19 and 4503.191 of the Revised Code, furnished by the Director of Public Safety, except that a manufacturer of motor vehicles or dealer therein, the holder of an in transit permit, and the owner or operator of a motorcycle, motorized bicycle, manufactured home, mobile home, trailer, or semitrailer shall display on the rear only. A motor vehicle that is issued two license plates, shall display the validation sticker only on the rear license plate, except that a commercial tractor that does not receive an apportioned license plate under the International Registration Plan, shall display the validation sticker on the front of the commercial tractor. An apportioned vehicle receiving an apportioned license plate under the International Registration Plan, shall display the license plate only on the front of a commercial tractor an on the rear of all other vehicles. All license plates shall be securely fastened so as not to swing, and shall not be covered by any material that obstructs their visibility.
No person to whom a temporary license placard or windshield sticker has been issued for the use of motor vehicle under Section 4503.182 of the Revised Code, and no operator of that motor vehicle, shall fail to display the temporary license placard in plain view from the rear of the vehicle, either in the rear window or on an external rear surface of the motor vehicle, or fail to display the windshield sticker in shall be covered by any material that obstructs its visibility.
Whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor.