Does Connecticut Require Front License Plates?

The law does not require Connecticut drivers to have a front license plate, but if the DMV issued you front and rear plates, you must display both.
Written by Mary Cahill
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
background
There’s some gray area surrounding front license plate requirements in Connecticut. Technically, you’re not required by law to have a front license plate on your vehicle, but if you were issued front and rear
Connecticut license plates
when you registered your car, then you’re obligated to display both.
These days, almost all new or gently used vehicles in
Connecticut
will come with two plates.
Your license plates serve as a sort of mini-profile of who owns the vehicle they’re attached to. Having a front license plate makes it easier for law enforcement officers to run the plate number and pull up the owner’s information. This is especially helpful if your license plate—or worse, your car—has been stolen. 
Navigating Connecticut’s stance on front license plates can be tricky, so the experts at
Jerry
have looked into the requirements for you. We’ll cover what the Connecticut statute says about front license plates and the important role front license plates can play in locating stolen vehicles.
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Does Connecticut require front license plates?

Chapter 246 Section 14-18 of the Connecticut penal code states that “Each motor vehicle for which one number plate has been issued shall, while in use or operation upon any public highway, display in a conspicuous place at the rear of such vehicle the number plate.” 
The same section of Connecticut’s law book goes on to say: “Each motor vehicle for which two number plates have been issued shall, while in use or operation upon any public highway, display in a conspicuous place at the front and the rear of such vehicle the number plates.”
If you buy your vehicle from a major dealership in Connecticut, you probably won’t have to worry too much about license plates—you’ll either hang onto your existing plates or be issued front and rear tags for your newly purchased car. If you acquire a vehicle through a private sale or an inheritance, there’s a chance it will only have a rear license plate.
Since it's the norm these days to be issued a pair of license plates when you register your car in Connecticut, having only one plate on your car could garner unwanted attention from law enforcement

What is the penalty for driving without a front license plate in Connecticut?

This is a topic that has long been up for debate. You could potentially drive without a front license plate for years in Connecticut without getting pulled over for it. That being said, if a Connecticut law enforcement officer has lingering suspicions about you or your vehicle, they may reserve the right to pull you over for lack of a front license plate as a way to assess if there are more serious legal violations in play. 
In fact, the most common scenario in which Connecticut drivers are cited for not having a front license plate is during traffic control checkpoints. These are typically state-funded traffic stops during which officers are expected to issue tickets or even make arrests. 
All in all, the penalty for driving without a front license plate in Connecticut largely depends on the circumstances. If you conduct yourself in a compliant and respectful manner while pulled over, there’s a good chance the officer will issue you a verbal warning. At worst, you could get a ticket fine in the $100 range
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Which U.S. states do not require a front license plate?

There are 19 states where front license plates have no legal bearing whatsoever. These states are: 
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas 
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma 
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

Why Connecticut requires a front license plate

It’s common practice for the Connecticut DMV to issue two license plates at the time of
vehicle registration
—one for the front of your car and one for the rear. Additionally, front license plates can be a significant factor in solving car thefts
Connecticut car thefts has been on a consistent decline in the last 30 years with the exception of a 2020 spike caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Haven-Milford metropolitan area sees the highest number of car thefts in the state with a reported 338 thefts per 1,000 residents
If you’re the victim of car theft in Connecticut, your license plate plays a key role in helping crack the case—just make sure you report the crime right away. Car thieves often remove license plates from the vehicles they steal and put them on unregistered vehicles (which may have also been stolen). If a police officer observes your plate on a vehicle that isn’t registered to you, this could be a step toward locating your missing car. 

How to find cheap car insurance in Connecticut

If you were issued two license plates by the Connecticut DMV, save yourself from being pulled over and possibly ticketed by putting both the front and rear plates on your car. Traffic tickets have a negative impact on the price of your
car insurance
, but you’ll better your chances of finding an affordable rate when you shop for coverage with
Jerry
When you download Jerry’s free app, it takes under a minute to gain access to the best deals from more than 55 insurers that Jerry partners with. Leave the boring paperwork and time-sucking phone calls up to Jerry—all you need to do is pick the insurance rate you like best and Jerry will help you get enrolled. On average people who choose a new policy with the Jerry app save over $800 per year on car insurance! 
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