Ohio drops front license plate requirement

Ohio drivers will no longer be drilling holes into the front of a new vehicle to mount a license plate as of Wednesday.

In the past, those without a front license plate could be charged with a minor misdemeanor and fined up to $100, and police could pull drivers over for the lack of a front plate.

A two-year state transportation budget approved last year included language to do away with the requirement for front license plates for most motor vehicles, including passenger vehicles. Rear plates will still be required for all vehicles and commercial tractors will still need a front license plate.

The change will likely impact many drivers. There were nearly 13.3 million vehicle registrations — including transfers — issued in Ohio last year, according to Lindsey Bohrer, assistant director of communications at the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

Ohio will be the 19th state to stop the requirement, joining those including Indiana and Kentucky.

For law enforcement, the front plate allows police to identify a vehicle as it’s coming toward them, said Trooper Jessica McIntyre, spokesman for the Ohio State Highway Patrol in districts that patrol areas including Dayton, Springfield and Xenia.

Removing the plate reduces the ability to identify a suspect by 50 percent, and vehicles are involved in 70 percent of crimes in the nation, she said.

“Not having a front license plate will create a challenge for law enforcement because officers will not be able to quickly identify a vehicle that may have been stolen or used in a crime by utilizing that front plate,” Cara Zinski-Neace, spokeswoman for the Dayton Police Department, said in a statement.

Still, McIntyre said she believes the change will not significantly impact officers’ ability to do their jobs, as they can still find information about the vehicle and owner with information from the rear plate.

“We adapt to changes. The patrol does and other agencies as well. So it doesn’t pose a problem,” McIntyre said. “We just adapt to the situation or what comes down as far as the legislature is concerned.”

She said doing away with the requirement will be a “breath of fresh air” for motorists, as many vehicles are not manufactured with a place for a front plate.

“That’s going to be a blessing to a lot of people, is that they don’t have to mess up their vehicles or pay for vehicles in order to have a front license plate on it,” McIntyre said.

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