Front license plates required, despite all those missing one

The in basket: Bill Rowe asks if Washington state is planning to eliminate the front license plate on vehicles.

“If not, is not having a front license plate a primary offense? Does law enforcement check to see if a vehicle has its front plate when the pull someone over for an infraction?,” he asked.

“I see many cars on the road with no front plates. I have seen as many as 40 in a day,” he said.

The in basket: Funny that Bill picked 40 in his example. I often say that in any group of 40 cars I meet on the highway, I will see at least one without a front plate.

There is no plan to eliminate them, and law enforcement seems to value them in doing their job.

Trooper Krista Hedstrom, spokeswoman for the local State Patrol office, says, “Troopers regularly stop drivers for failure to have a front license plate.

“Yes, I do agree that it is a common violation and one we see often.  In many cases, drivers are let go with a verbal or written warning and are asked to place the license plate back onto their vehicle.  The decision to issue a ticket for this violation is at the officer’s discretion.”

She said checking for a front plate after a traffic stop is not a matter of routine like asking for license, registration and proof of insurance, as walking around the car can put an officer in jeopardy. Usually, the absence of a front plate has been noticed before the vehicle is pulled over, she said.

Lt. Pete Fisher, head of Bremerton police’s traffic division, said “My response mirrors Krista’s.” Deputy Scott Wilson of Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office also agreed and added that a ploy of some drivers to move the plate up onto the dashboard isn’t legal.

The law requires the front plate to be mounted horizontally, at a height no higher than four feet from the ground, typically on the front bumper, he said.

6 thoughts on “Front license plates required, despite all those missing one

  1. Of course there is no plan to eliminate the front plate, the State Patrol (Revenue collectors?) need the nice reflective surface for their laser guns to check your compliance while they sit in the unmarked car without lights on the right-of-way in the dark. This is the real reason that you are forced to replace perfectly good plates evey few years!

  2. When I first moved here from Arizona, but after I had registered my car here, I was surprised one day when I was stopped for only having the rear plate. As AZ did not have the requirement, my car did not have the required hardware, and so I didn’t bother attaching the front plate.

    If the savings to the state that the previous commenter cited is true they should certainly consider it. If other states don’t require them I’m willing to bet that their value to LE is negligible.

    I also wonder why Lt. Fisher would characterize a driver attempting to be compliance enough to put the extra plate in the front window a “ploy” when that is the same height/location for the proper placement of temporary (the paper) licenses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Enter the word yellow here: