Is it Legal to Display a License Plate in Your Car’s Windshield?

If you’re a car enthusiast, then you know how ugly front license plates on cars can be. There’s almost nothing worse than modifying, painting, and even cleaning your car to your heart’s content, only to have the front end look of it be ruined by an unsightly number plate. Many enthusiasts choose to remove the plate completely, which can cause them to get pulled over and get a ticket. But is displaying the license plate in the windshield a legal workaround?

License plate placement depends on your local state laws

Con plates front license plate holder on a front windshield
Con plates front license plate holder on a front windshield | Amazon

There are currently 30 states, plus Washington D.C., where a front license plate is required to be affixed to your car. The states that don’t require a front license plate are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. So if you live in one of those states, consider yourself lucky.

For everyone else, that front plate has to stay on the front bumper. However, if you live in Washington, Nevada, or Florida, you can legally affix a license plate to another spot in the front of the vehicle if it can’t be mounted in the original spot for the license plate.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the plate can sit in the windshield, though, as every law that we found says that the plate must be securely fastened to the outside of the vehicle. The license plate must also be well-lit and visible from at least 50 feet away. Additionally, having the license plate in the windshield can obstruct the driver’s view, which goes against a different law.

What’s the point of having two license plates?

Officials transfer license plates of the motorcade ahead of the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
Officials transfer license plates of the motorcade ahead of the inauguration of President Joe Biden. | (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post/POOL)

It’s important for every car to have two license plates for law enforcement purposes, reports the Echo Press. If an officer needs to run a car’s plates, then they should be able to obtain the information from either the front or rear of the vehicle. Also, if the vehicle is backed into a parking spot, it’s important for law enforcement to be able to read the plate information from the front of the vehicle.

Alternate ways to display your front license plate

If you live in a state where a front license plate is required and your car doesn’t have a spot, then there are a few other ways to mount the plate, according to CNET:

  • Tow hook mount: Many cars have tow hook sockets underneath a small panel located on the front bumper. While this socket is meant to have a tow hook screwed in for when the car needs to be towed, it can also double as a mounting spot for a special license plate tow hook mount.
  • Quick release mount: If you would rather have the ability to easily remove the license plate, the a quick release mount could work for you. This mount has two pieces; the bottom piece is a plate that screws in under the chin of the car while the other is attached to the plate. When you want the plate off the car, you just separate the top part from the bottom in seconds.
  • Motorized mounts: For the “Houdini of license plate mounts,” you can get a motorized mount that secures the bottom of the front chin. With the push of a button from a remote, the license plate will raise and lower in second “James Bond style.”

Here is an example:

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