Does Rhode Island Require Front License Plates?

Most passenger vehicles in Rhode Island are required to display two license plates, but there are a few important exceptions.
Written by Natalie Todoroff
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Oct 28, 2022
Rhode Island drivers are required to display two license plates: one on the front and one on the rear of their vehicles. 
Of all the parts of your car you’re probably proud of—its glistening paint job, custom rims, tinted windows, or well-curated selection of bumper stickers—the front license plate probably doesn’t rank in the top 5…or even make the list. Although you may think of your front license plate as something of an eyesore, it actually plays an important role in helping law enforcement officials identify stolen vehicles and enforce traffic laws. 
, the trusted super app for finding great deals on
car insurance
, is here with this guide to everything you need to know about Rhode Island license plates. We’ll help you make sense of the state laws, review some important Rhode Island vehicle theft statistics, and give you our best tips and tricks on how to lower
Rhode Island car insurance costs
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms · No fees, ever

Does Rhode Island require front license plates?

Section 31-3-10
of the Rhode Island state code shows your type of car is exempt, your vehicle must have two license plates, one on the front and one on the rear.
Additionally, your
Rhode Island license plates
must be readable 100 feet away in daylight, and the bottom of the license plate must be at least 12 inches above the ground. Plates must also be made of reflective material so they are visible at night, have either “Rhode Island” or “RI” written on them, and list the year they were issued or the date they expire. 
And, unless you have commercial plates or Purple Heart plates, the words “Ocean State” must be printed and visible on both the front and rear plates. 


Most, but not all, vehicles in Rhode Island require two plates. If you drive any of the following vehicles, you are not required to follow the two-state rule:
  • Motorcycle
  • Trailer 
  • Semi-trailer 
  • In-transit vehicle 
  • Transporter 
  • Bailee vehicle 
  • Dealer vehicle 
When registering your vehicle, you will be given one or two plates, depending on how many you are required to display. So, if you receive two from the Rhode Island Department of Revenue, the second one isn’t a spare! 

What is the penalty of driving without a front license plate in Rhode Island?

The penalties for various traffic violations are all spelled out in
Chapter 41.1
of Rhode Island’s state statutes. Driving without a front license plate on your vehicle in Rhode Island is subject to an $85 fine
And the police officer pulling you over for it may not be that forgiving, either. All of Rhode Island’s surrounding states also require drivers to display front and rear license plates on passenger vehicles—so double check your plates before you hit the road!

Which US states do not require a front license plate?

Of the 50 states, only 31 of them follow the two-plate rule. The remaining 19 do not have any front license plate requirements: 
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas 
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma 
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

Why Rhode Island requires front license plates

The front license plate rule isn’t in place as some kind of legally-required symbol of state pride. Instead, front license plates are very important in helping the police track down and return stolen vehicles
We sincerely hope you’re never the victim of car theft, but if it happens, you’ll be thankful for your front license plates: displaying a front license plate doubles the chances that police will recover your vehicle. 
Let Jerry find your price in only 45 seconds
No spam · No long forms · No fees
Find insurance savings (100% Free)

Which states have the highest rate of car theft? 

Thankfully, car theft in Rhode Island is a pretty minor concern—but one you should have on your radar. According to data from the Insurance Information Institute, Rhode Island was ranked fifth on a list of fewest car thefts, with 1,509 vehicles reported as stolen
had the most car thefts of all of the cities in Rhode Island, closely tailed by the capital city
. Pawtucket had 319.92 thefts per 100,000 residents, while Providence had slightly less at 306.38 per 100,000. To put these figures into perspective, Bakersfield,
consistently takes the top spot for the highest number of car theft with an astounding 1,023.6 per 100,000 residents. 
While the numbers may be low in Rhode Island, that doesn’t mean you can abandon caution. If you find yourself as one of the 1,509 Rhode Islanders with their car missing from their driveways, you’ll be thanking yourself for getting
comprehensive coverage

How to find cheap car insurance in Rhode Island

Whether you’re looking to knock a couple of bucks off your
car insurance
payments or beef up your coverage level, there’s no easier way to tweak your policy than with
Jerry, the
trusted comparison shopping app
, uses the power of comparison shopping to find customized insurance quotes from a pool of 55 premium providers. All you need to do is download the app, answer a couple of quick questions, and let Jerry do the rest! 
made switching over to new insurance so quick and easy! My monthly payment went from $469 to $362 by switching me to Progressive. 10/10 would recommend!” —Luanne T.
Never overpay for insurance again. Jerry’s AI notifies you when insurance prices drop.
New quotes when prices drop automatically
30 seconds to sign up
No phone calls or people bothering you
100% FREE
Put insurance shopping on auto-pilot NOW. Your wallet will thank you later!
Select the type of insurance:
Compare Car Insurance Quotes For Free
Jerry automatically shops for your insurance before every renewal. Members save $872/year.
rating primary
Rating on App Store
Start saving money!
12,000+ Reviews
Trusted by 3.5M car owners like you

You might also be interested

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings — it's 100% free