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Pros and Cons of Front License Plates

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License Plates
Photo: Pixabay

Out of 50 states in the United States of America, 31 require drivers to display rear and front license plates. Ohio is about to make the switch and become a rear-plate-only state. Some motorists are thrilled, while others are firmly on the two-plate team. Here’s a look at each side’s arguments.

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Arguments in favor of front license plates

  • Public safety: According to, having two license plates increases vehicle visibility. Reflective plates reduce the risk of striking stalled or crashed cars. They also make it easier to see drivers who forgot to switch on the headlights.
  • Criminal apprehension: Some police officers want to keep front plates because they make it easier to enforce laws surrounding parking, speeding, and reckless driving. With two plates, red light cameras, witnesses, and license-plate-reading technologies have twice as many opportunities to identify a vehicle.
  • Revenue generation: When it’s easier to find (and fine) motorists who’ve broken, the state can rake in the dough. Colorado (a two-plate state) could lose $23,100,000 in toll revenue if it solely relied upon rear plates to ID violators. Pennsylvania (a one-plate state) couldn’t identify 16 percent of vehicles at tollways in 2011, resulting in lost money.

Arguments against front license plates

  • Aesthetics: If you drive a finely sculpted sports car, you probably aren’t eager to smack a tin plate on the front bumper. In fact, many high-end vehicles don’t even have a place to install a front license plate — so some drivers have to buy clunky-looking brackets or drill into the bumper to stay in compliance. Yikes!
  • Safety features: Modern vehicles have cameras and sensors for adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alerts, and parking guides. Since these cameras and sensors are in the car’s front end, a front license plate can interfere with them working properly.
  • Other states: Ohio is a two-plate surrounded by one-plate neighbors. Some Ohio residents feel that this makes Ohioans more likely to be caught by traffic cameras. Out-of-state drivers can zip through unpunished in their hard-to-identify one-plate cars.

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Sources:, Ohio,