Do You Need a Front License Plate in Pennsylvania?

Front license plates are not required for standard passenger vehicles in Pennsylvania. Subject to certain exceptions, most Pennsylvania drivers only need to display a rear license plate when driving on local roadways. 

In fact, PennDOT has not required front license plates on standard-issue vehicles since 1952. Many cars originally sold in Pennsylvania do not even have front plate holders. While the requirement for rear-facing plates only is something many drivers might prefer, it can be more difficult to identify vehicles involved in accidents when they lack a front license plate. 

Suppose you have been injured in a car accident in Lancaster, and the lack of a front plate makes it more difficult to identify the at-fault driver. In that case, an experienced Pennsylvania injury lawyer might be able to investigate your case further. 

What Are the Requirements for a Rear License Plate in Pennsylvania? 

Under Pennsylvania law, a license plate must be affixed to the rear of the vehicle and displayed as follows: 

  • Clearly visible to other drivers
  • Positioned horizontally and not vertically
  • At least 12 inches from the ground, as measured from the bottom of the plate
  • Attached securely to prevent the plate from swinging

In addition, vehicles equipped with registration plate lamps in the rear are required to emit white light and make the license plate visible from up to 50 feet away. License plates in Pennsylvania must also be free from peeling, discoloration, disfigurement, or loss of reflectivity that can make the plate illegible to others. Violations of these rules can lead to drivers being pulled over and issued infractions. 

Why Do Some States Require Front License Plates But Not Others? 

This is a common question, especially in Pennsylvania, which borders several states with front-plate requirements. 

Different states set different requirements due to historical practices, legislative concerns, administrative preferences, and police powers. 

Some common reasons for the distinction in laws include: 

  • State-based legal systems. The United States functions under a decentralized legal system in which states set their own motor vehicle laws. This allows states to craft their own laws that they believe are best suited for their residents. 
  • Law enforcement capabilities. Some state law enforcement agencies push for front plates to make it easier to identify vehicles. Other states might have enhanced capabilities to track and identify vehicles when needed or simply believe rear plates are sufficient. 
  • Design preferences. Some states may not require front plates as a design consideration – especially in states where auto design enthusiasts and collectors of luxury or antique cars hold influence. 
  • State budgets and legislative preferences. Some governmental bodies might not require front license plates as a cost-saving measure. Given the volume of plates to be assembled and distributed, certain states might not believe the benefit outweighs the cost. 

Currently, 29 U.S. states require front license plates for standard vehicles, while 21 other U.S. states do not require front plates. 

What if I Was Injured in an Accident by a Driver Without Front License Plates? 

Regardless of what drivers and state agencies might prefer, front license plates make it easier to identify vehicles on the roadway. This is especially true when a car is involved in a crime, an accident, or a hit-and-run accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in any type of auto accident, you could be entitled to financial compensation. If your right to fair payment is impacted by the inability to identify an at-fault driver, you still have options. A personal injury lawyer in Lancaster with a proven record in car accident claims can utilize all possible resources to organize the facts of your case and take your claim to the insurance company or to court. 

A Car Accident Lawyer at Marzzacco Niven & Associates Can Help if You Were Injured in a Crash Involving a Car Without a Front Plate   

If you are recovering from a car accident, you can count on a car accident lawyer to pursue financial relief and justice. A car accident lawyer can help you identify who is at fault, learn about your legal rights, and seek compensation. 

If you’ve been injured in a personal injury, please contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 231-1640

York Law Office
2550 Kingston Road, Suite 210A York, PA 17401
(717) 995-8998

Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610
(717) 388-2325

Chambersburg Law Office
79 St. Paul Drive, Suite 1 Chambersburg, PA 17201
(717) 388-2378

Carlisle Law Office
354 Alexander Springs Road Carlisle, PA 17015
(717) 995-8732

Carbondale Law Office
30 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 101 Carbondale, PA 18407
(717) 995-8810

Lancaster Law Office
2173 Embassy Drive, Ste 123, Lancaster Pa 17603
(717) 616-2954

Lebanon Law Office
937 Willow Street, Suite D Lebanon
(717) 995-8963