Misc. Legal Information

License Plates

States that require front/back license plates:

Alaska, American Samoa, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, British Columbia, Manitoba (newly issue plates), New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan
States that require only a rear license plate :

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virgin Islands, West Virginia, Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba (New plates are front/back in 1997), Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island, Yukon Territory
Other Info:

Some states have attempted to require front license plates. Those states include Indiana and Louisiana.

Colorado and Montana legislature has attempted to becoming single plate states but have met strong resistance from the law enforcement community.

Connecticut and Massachusetts is in transition from being a single plate state to requiring front and back plates. On older cars, only a single plate was issued, therefore, those cars would continue to display a single plate. When dual plates were issued, they are required to display dual plates.

When registration laws are enforced most states that require 2 license plates will enforce the front license plate law on out-of-state motorist if their state requires a front license plate.

Manitoba issues 2 plates but the front plate is optional on the old issue but are mandatory on new issue.
See how License Plates look in North America.

Safety and Emission Inspections

States that Require Safety Inspections:

Arkansas (Discontinued 1/1/98), Deleware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia
Other Info:

South Carolina has discontinued state safety inspection program as of July 1, 1995. Oklahoma discontinued their program on Aug 2001.
Maryland does a safety inspection when you first register an out-of-state vehicle.
*** States that Require Emission Inspections:

Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Deleware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin
Other Info:

***Most states that are listed require emissions testing in urban areas but not rural areas. A few states have statewide testing.

Arizona requires non-resident students to get the test if going to school in an emissions area.

Michigan dis-continued their emission inspection program a year ago.

Kentucky discontinued their program in 2001.

Colorado require emissions testing in the counties of El Paso (west of Peyton Highway), *Douglas, *Denver, *Arapahoe, *Jefferson, *Boulder, Weld, Larimer, and Pitkin (Aspen). (* requires enhanced testing - I/M 240). People who go to school in and military people who are based in those counties are also required to get the test regardless of what state their cars are registered in. Failure to comply is a $50 fine plus surcharge with no points. Out-of-state emissions testing is not recognized.

Utah requires students who live in Salt Lake City to have emissions testing done on their cars even though they may keep their out-of-state plates.

Massachusetts and New York requires cars to meet California Emissions Standards. New York maybe discontinuing California standards though.

Other Odd laws

Minnesota had a new law that took effect Aug 1, 1995 which prohibits the use of license plate covers of any kind including the clear covers. Plate covers reduced the effectiveness of the reflective materials used. Also prohibited are the tinted headlight and tailight covers. They are prohibited at all times. Clear headlight and tailight covers are still allowed.

Window Tint Laws

Michigan and Florida has a law that prohibits the use of Neon Lighting on the undersides of cars or around license plates. Florida will go as far as requiring you to cut the wires to the lamp tubes if caught.

Oregon passed a new law which is a demonstration project on Photo Radar. The program begins on Jan 1, 1996 and ends on Dec 31, 1997. Tickets issued are either to owners of cars or in the case of a rental car, to the renter. Convictions carry the same as in points as if the ticket was issued by a police officer. There are loopholes to get the tickets thrown out as in the owner.

The Oregon Photo Radar law has been extended and some loopholes has been closed. The details are not known.
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Last Updated : Apr 20, 2002
Standard Disclaimer: The author is not responsible for any mistakes in this document but the document is here for your information. Please check with local authorities to get clarification.