New to Florida? One of the first things you’ll notice is that cars here don’t have front license plates. This might surprise you if you’re from a state where two license plates are the standard. So, why does Florida not have front license plates?
Florida has been issuing only rear license plates since 1922. There have been several criticisms of the front license plate, such as limiting the performance of sports vehicles, blocking advanced features in newer cars, affecting the aesthetics of some cars, and it also costs the DMV more to make.
However, the majority of the states in the US still require front license plates. Here, we discuss why Florida doesn’t have front license plates.
History Of License Plates in Florida
Florida made it compulsory for residents to register their cars in 1905. From that time until 1918, the car owner had to provide the license plates they wanted on their car. It was the last state in the contiguous US to start issuing license plates for car owners.
Since then, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has issued several license plates. Although it started by issuing front and rear license plates, it adopted only rear license plates in 1922.
In 1956, the size of license plates for all vehicles in the US except motorcycles was set to 6 inches in height and 12 inches in width. This has become the standard in Florida since then. Between 1938 and 1977, the country adopted numeric county codes for its license plates, numbering the 67 counties at that time based on their population in the 1937 census. It also used letters based on the class of the vehicles between 1932 and 1977.
With the advancement in technology, which led to the changes in the weight of cars, the state also modified its license plates. There were also license types for non-passenger vehicles and other classes of cars.
The state also issued personalized license plates for an extra cost. It has also issued more than 120 specialty license plates. This makes it the third state, after Virginia and Texas, with the highest number of specialty plates to be issued. However, some of those specialty plates are no longer available.
Reasons for Adopting only Rear License Plates
Florida decided to abandon rear license plates a century ago. While it’s difficult to know the reasoning behind the decision, there are several reasons for not using front license plates. They include:
1. Affects Car Aesthetics
Many drivers don’t care about whether their car has two license plates. But for those that drive sports cars, vintage, and luxury vehicles, the idea of a front license plate might not sit well with them. This is because some cars aren’t designed to have front plates. So, adding front plates to the car might seem like defacing it. This is especially true for those who have exotic luxury cars and vintage cars.
2. Limit Performance In Sport Vehicles
In some sports cars, the front license plate might also affect the vehicle’s performance. Some sports vehicles with turbo charge usually have an intercooler at the front. This collects air and allows for optimal airflow in the vehicle. Thus, the turbo system won’t get too hot. But when there’s a front license plate, it obstructs the airflow, limiting how much cool air gets to the turbo. This can hinder the car’s performance.
3. Block Advanced Features
The front license plate can also affect other functions in the car. Newer vehicles usually have several features for safety and driver assistance. These could be 360-degree cameras, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, etc. All these features work based on sensors correctly reading the road and environment. But a front license plate could make it difficult for the sensors to function properly, causing some of these features to be useless. Several car manufacturers still make vehicles without providing a place for the front license plate. But some car manufacturers are raising the sensors so the license plate won’t block it.
Another major criticism of front license plates is the cost of making them. Many claim the cost of producing two license plates is higher than the value. This is one of the arguments that has led some states not to bother with it.
States Without Front License Plates
Twenty states in the US don’t require having front license plates. They are:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Is The Front Plate Worth It
In other parts of the country and most parts of the world, cars must have license plates on both ends of the car. Generally, the rear license plate is more important in cars because it’s usually what the witnesses will see if a car is fleeing a crime or accident scene. But that doesn’t mean the front plate is useless.
In most cases, it’s easier for traffic cams to scan front plates, making it easier to find offenders or catch criminals. License plate recognition systems are also better at reading front and rear license plates instead of only one. This makes it easier to find stolen vehicles and find criminals.
However, some states allow for exceptions to using the front license plate. One of such is Washington State, where it’s possible to get an exemption if a vehicle doesn’t have a manufacturer-built location for the front license plate. The car owner must write to the Washington state patrol to get a waiver in such cases.
Also, there are options for those with sport and luxury vehicles to get license plate brackets. This allows them to install the front plate on the tow spot instead of directly on the grille, where it can disfigure the car.
Can You Use a Front License Plate in
In Florida, getting a vanity plate for the front of your car is possible. But it must not be obscene or a valid license plate from another state. Florida also requires making the rear plate as clear as possible. In addition, the car must have white light, which makes it possible to see the rear plate clearly from 50 feet, and the plate must be clean.
The rule on rear license plates has existed in Florida since 1922. So, it’s unlikely that there’s any special reason for it. But front plates have some disadvantages that are worth noting. Even then, it’s still more popular in the US, with 30 states requiring it.