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Do You Need a Front License Plate in New York?

Posted in New York Law on July 8, 2024

Do You Need a Front License Plate in New York?

License plates are identifiers that link specific cars to their owners and help authorities track and combat illicit behaviors, whether moving violations or large-scale crimes. They also allow citizens to identify other drivers, whether they want to report illegal behavior or need to know who was involved in a car accident, for example.

Every state in the U.S. requires that vehicle owners display a license plate on the rear of the vehicle, but not all states require a front license plate alongside it. Currently, 21 states do not require a second license plate to be displayed on the front of the vehicle, and even more are in the process of eliminating the requirement altogether.

As a driver, it’s important to follow the rules in your state of residence. But it’s also important to determine whether there are any exceptions to such laws, especially if there are reasons why you prefer not to attach a front plate.

Reasons You Might Not Want a Front Plate

If you drive a luxury vehicle, such as a sports car, you may find that there’s simply no place to mount a front license plate. Some high-end manufacturers and models deliberately avoid using a front mount because it could alter the aerodynamics (or merely ruin the sleek silhouette) of the vehicle.

Others may provide a mount upon request, but you might also find yourself in a case where you simply have to find another way to secure a front license plate to your vehicle on your own. As the owner, it is your responsibility to make sure your plates are properly displayed.

That is especially important in a state like New York, which still stands as one of the other 29 states that require drivers to display a front license plate.

New York Vehicle & Traffic Law

Section 402 of the New York Vehicle & Traffic Law (VTL) indicates that license plates issued by the state must be clearly displayed, with one plate on the front and one plate on the rear. The section further states that front plates may not be displayed at higher than 48” or lower than 12” from the ground.

If you’re trying to get around adding a plate mount to the front of your vehicle by displaying the plate on the inside of your windshield or hanging it below the front bumper, for example, these restrictions could hamper your efforts.

Additionally, Section 1213 states that you may not load a vehicle in such a way “…as to obstruct the view of the driver to the front or sides of the vehicle…” In other words, you could be ticketed for having a front plate displayed in the windshield, even if it is secured and displayed within allowed height limits.

The view of the plate cannot be obstructed, either by snow or ice on your windshield or “…by glass or any plastic material.”

Are There Exceptions?

If you drive a car in the Big Apple, there are no exceptions to the rules laid out by the law. The only vehicle allowed to forego the front plate is a motorcycle.

Under Section 411 of the NY VTL, a state-issued license plate must be “…conspicuously displayed on the rear of such motorcycle, securely fastened so as to prevent the same from swinging.” As such, should a traffic violation or motorcycle accident occur, the rear plate will be enough to identify the vehicle.

Why Are Front License Plates Important?

Front license plates are required for several reasons, but they primarily serve to ensure roadway safety.

They are visible to oncoming traffic, red light cameras, and other front-facing viewers, allowing citizens and authorities to identify vehicles involved in everything from moving violations to pedestrian accidents. Failure to properly display both rear and front plates as required by New York law could result in serious penalties, including fines.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in New York, NY

If you need legal assistance, contact the New York City car accident lawyers at Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation.

We have two convenient locations in New York:

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – New York City Office
450 7th Ave #1605
New York, NY 10123
(212) 564-2800

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – Brooklyn Office
26 Court St Suite 2511
Brooklyn, NY 11242
(718) 802-1600

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