Removal of the Washington State Front License Plate Requirement

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We, The Undersigned, petition the State of Washington to change RCW 46.16.240, the current law requiring the display of a front license plate on passenger vehicles. The first sentence of RCW 46.16.240 currently reads, The vehicle license number plates shall be attached conspicuously at the front and rear of each vehicle for which the same are issued and in such a manner that they can be plainly seen and read at all times. We would like that sentence to read, The vehicle license number plate shall be attached conspicuously at the rear of each vehicle for which the same are issued and in such a manner that they can be plainly seen and read at all times. We would like to affirm that we support the current and future licensing fee structure. We only request that the law reflect that a front license plate is not required.

There are a number of benefits to this change in policy. They are outlined below.

The State of Washington will save money by producing half the amount of license plates. This money could be channeled to other needs such as road improvements.

By producing half the amount of license plates the State of Washington will be producing less waste. License plates are not recyclable and are difficult to dispose of properly. Less waste is always better for the environment.

Front license plates and the accompanying frames, screws and bolts can cause extra damage to other vehicles even in the most minor of collisions. Higher collision damage results in higher insurance costs. By removing the requirement for front license plates Washington State citizens would benefit by lower damage in collisions and therefore lower insurance rates.

Today many cars are constructed without mounting hardware for a front license plate. Washington State citizens who own such vehicles are required to either purchase mounting hardware, if available, or drill or otherwise modify the front bumper of their vehicles to come into compliance. This not only costs the Washington State consumers more money but can also lower the value of their vehicles, especially in regards to selling to other states that do not require front license plates.

Many classic era vehicles were not constructed with mounting hardware for front license plates. Removing the requirement of front license plates would allow classic car owners to maintain their cars in their original state. This would keep the value of the classic cars higher.

Vertical surfaces create wind resistance and drag on moving vehicles. Wind resistance and drag on vehicles leads to a decrease in fuel economy. Even though the effect would be small on an individual basis, the overall effect statewide of removing the front license plates would be great. Greater fuel economy leads to less air pollution and a cleaner environment.

Vertical surfaces on the front of moving vehicles reduce the vehicles ability to cool the engine and other parts. Radiators, oil coolers, intercoolers and air conditioning units are all affected negatively by front license plates restricting the air flow through the front of vehicles. By reducing the effectiveness of the engine and other parts the engine and other parts work less efficiently. This restricted air flow also inhibits the air intake ability of many vehicles. Inhibited air flow in a vehicles intake and a less efficient engine and other parts lead to lower fuel efficiency and therefore lower fuel economy. Like with wind resistance and drag, the individual effect may small but the statewide effect would be great. Again, greater fuel economy leads to less air pollution and a cleaner environment.

Some people might suggest that the lack of front license plates would make it more difficult for law enforcement officers to identify suspect vehicles. However the time available for viewing the front of a moving vehicle is extremely short. This is made the more difficult at night when vehicles have their headlights on. Its the rear of vehicles that can be easily viewed for longer periods especially when a suspect vehicle is being pursued. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest that front license plates have any direct correlation to crime rate, public safety or any other area of law enforcement.

Motorcycles in Washington State already do not require a front license plate. There have been no serious issues arising from the lack of front license plates on motorcycles. There should likewise not be any for other vehicles.

Law enforcement officers may actually find themselves with a little more time with the removal of the front license plate requirement. Less time will be spent on violators with no front license plate. This would leave more time to pursue more pressing issues such as reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol.


We, The Undersigned voters and general public of the State of Washington request that you, the officials who make the law, abolish the legal requirement of a front license plate on vehicles. Rare is the instance indeed when a lawmaker has the opportunity to make a change that not only improves the environment but saves money for the State of Washington and its citizens. Please take this issue seriously as it does have many benefits to the environment, the state and its citizens. We urge you to join the following states in not requiring a front license plate: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

We wish to assert that we thank and support the local Law Enforcement Officers and Law Making Officials in the State of Washington in their efforts to make this state a better place to live. We hope that they will continue to make good choices that positively affect the environment, the state and its citizens. We believe that abolishing the requirement to have a license plate on the front of passenger vehicles will continue this noble endeavor and bring even greater credit and honor to the State of Washington as well as the citizens and civic servants therein.