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Ohio Removes Front License Plate Requirement, Joining 19 Other States

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 7/2/2020 Roberto Baldwin
a close up of a helmet: The Midwestern state swings to a one-plate system, making owners of Genesis, Lexus, and other cars with huge front grilles happy. © Marc Urbano - Car and Driver The Midwestern state swings to a one-plate system, making owners of Genesis, Lexus, and other cars with huge front grilles happy.
  • Beginning July 1, vehicles in Ohio no longer need to display a front license plate.
  • Law enforcement is unhappy with the decision because it makes it more difficult to identify oncoming vehicles.
  • Ohio joins 19 other states that don't require front plates.

As of July 1, the state of Ohio no longer requires vehicles to have a license plate mounted on the front. You still have to put one on the back of the car, of course; the state has not yet descended into unlicensed anarchy. That's great news for those with vehicles that look horrible with a front plate—and those with the currently fashionable huge grilles in front. Not as good news for the cops and people who use Uber to get around.

Research

The state changed the requirement for the front license plate while updating its annual transportation budget in the state's House Bill 62. While passenger vehicles are now exempt from placing a metal rectangle with an alphanumeric string on the front bumper, commercial big rigs will still need to have a front and rear plate. People who like the dual plates will be allowed to keep them.

As expected, law enforcement is not too keen on the new rule. Police believe that removing that front plate makes it tougher for the cops to identify and catch people committing crimes. For example, if a gray Prius has been used in a crime, a squad car won’t have to flip around to check the license plate of every gray Prius they encounter to check the plate to see if that's the hybrid they're looking for.

Front license plates also likely make it easier for speed and stoplight cameras to catch people in the act of breaking the law.

Ohio joins 19 other states that have removed the requirement of a front license plate, meaning it's still in the minority nationwide. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the current registration fee will drop only $1.25, to $12—meaning consumers aren't going to see savings from the change—but the state of Ohio expects to save $1.4 million a year by making fewer plates. The Dayton Daily News noted that Ohio had more than 13 million vehicle registrations or transfers in 2019. That's a lot of license-plate metal.

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