Front License Plates – Beneficial, or Bogus?

A few weeks ago, I installed a front license plate on my Camaro.

I’ve been driving this car for almost two years without a front plate, and considering that Ohio requires a front plate and I drive my Camaro almost every day, I figured I was pushing my luck with each day I went without. So, I finally broke down and put it on.

Now, if you’re not into cars, you probably don’t see why this is a big deal. Or if you are into cars, but this is your “winter beater” or practical transportation, work truck, etc. it also isn’t a big deal – for those vehicles. But for people who are into cars, and care about the aesthetics, it’s a major annoyance.

Some cars- even some sports and collectible cars – look fine with front plates. My brother’s ’69 Camaro, is one, for instance, looks fine with a front plate because it was designed with a place for one.


There's a reason car manufacturers never show their vehicles with front plates

That’s not the case with the new Camaros, or really, any car with a front bumper that’s pointed, or curved more than minimally. And people who are into new Camaros HATE front plates. Most enthusiasts who live in states where they’re required, if they buy a new car, ask the dealership NOT to install the front plate bracket. These look especially crappy on the new Camaro because it totally takes away from the aggressive, pointed profile. The other big reason Camaro owners hate the front plate is that mounting it requires drilling into the front bumper fascia. So even if you move, or lightning strikes and your state ditches the front plate requirement, your car is screwed – literally. Many of us just can’t stomach the thought of drilling into our beautiful babies.

In Ohio, the ticket for no front plate is over $100, I’ve heard. I don’t know of anyone in my area (Dayton) who’s been ticketed for it. One of my Camaro forum friends has, but he lives in a small town in southern Ohio. From what I’ve read on the forum, law enforcement is more aggressive other states.

There are several reasons states with front plate laws give for requiring them. The number one reason given is safety. Sorry, but I am skeptical – if it really made a difference, wouldn’t front plates be required in all fifty states?

Another reason – and one I believe – is to help law enforcement (Duh!). One, so they can more easily bust you speeding/running a red light by camera, but also to aid in recognizing cars with a BOLO (Be On the Look Out), whether this is an Amber Alert situation, a stolen car, or being driven by someone who’s a fugitive for some other reason.

There are probably petitions for the abolishment of the front plate requirement circulating in every state that has one. They have been in Ohio for years. And finally, it’s having some affect: HB 107 has been introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives, and hopefully will come up for a vote soon. Given our current economic situation, it may even pass this time – estimates say it will save the state $165 million a year. Granted, that’s not much when you’re facing ann $8 billion budget shortfall, but every little bit helps, and this is a cut that wouldn’t take away from another program or funding need.

If you agree, I’d encourage you to email your congress(wo)man. Find his/her email address at the Ohio House of Representatives web site.

Camaro photo via