Have you Ever Wondered: Do I legally need a front license plate?
In this last article, we like to explain a simple legal problem that we found ourselves in and then explain how we reached the obvious answer.
Ryan recently found himself wondering if he really needs a license plate on the front of his car? Here’s how he got himself into this situation. It was October and it was time to change his tabs. And lucky him - this was the seventh year of owning his car so he had the privilege of paying for new plates. Unfortunately, instead of putting the new front plate on his car, he accidently recycled it with the old plates that he had just removed. So the next morning after realizing his mistake and finding that the waste management folks had just taken away his recyclables, he found himself asking: “I wonder if I really need a front plate on my car? He said to himself: “I mean what’s a front plate do that the back one can’t do on its own. Other cars on the road don’t have front plates, why do I need one?” As he drove around town, he thought that maybe he didn’t need a front plate since he saw other, much nicer cars than his, without front plates.
Faced with this dilemma, Ryan did what any curious lawyer does, he started reading through the laws in our state to find the answer. Here is what he found out. First, and most obvious, you need a front license plate. However under Washington state law, RCW 46.16.240 to be exact, a special exception exists. If the body of the car is built in a way that it is impossible for a plate to be mounted to the front of the car (like a Ferrari) then no front plate is required. If you fall into this category then you can write the Washington State Patrol and request a waiver. If approved, no front plate is required.
Ryan took one look at his 2000 Nissan Pathfinder and instantly new that this exception was not for him. Still upset with himself for throwing out the plate in the first place, he went back to the DOL and bought another set of plates. Ryan of course shared his story and all the great research he did with the woman at the DOL, but she just laughed. He went through all this trouble to find out an obvious answer: you certainly do need a front license plate on your car.