Do You Need a Front License Plate in Illinois?

Are you buying a car or registering an out-of-state vehicle in Illinois for the first time? If so, it’s important to understand Illinois license plate requirements. In some states, only a rear license plate is required, but other states require that vehicles display a back and front license plate. 

You aren’t violating the law if you are following the requirements of the state in which your vehicle is registered. However, no matter where you are driving, you will need to follow Illinois law when you register a car in the state. 

Is a Front License Plate Required in Illinois?

Section 625 ILCS 5/3-413 requires vehicles licensed in Illinois to display two license or registration plates, “one in the front and one in the rear.” Both license plates must be attached or affixed, unobstructed, and at least five inches from the ground. A license plate cannot simply be displayed in a windshield. 

Some states make exceptions for vintage vehicles, but Illinois does not. The Illinois Secretary of State’s website mentions no exceptions.

A bill was introduced to change the Illinois vehicle code and remove the requirement for front license plates. However, the bill was sent back to the committee and stalled. 

Why Illinois Requires a Front License Plate

The main benefit of requiring front and rear license plates is ensuring vehicles are easy to identify. With two license plates, car accident and pedestrian accident witnesses and victims can more easily identify a vehicle no matter which way it is traveling. Front license plates can also be helpful in identifying vehicles in emergency situations. 

Toll booths and speed cameras don’t require a front license plate, but it can be useful to identify the actual driver of a vehicle or as a backup if the rear plate is obscured. 

Penalty For Failing To Have a Front License Plate in Illinois

Failing to have both a rear and front license plate secured to your vehicle can result in a fine. In Illinois, you can be pulled over for this reason alone, or it can be added to a parking ticket, for example. 

You’ll undoubtedly see many Illinois-registered vehicles on the road without a front license plate. Many drivers choose to try their luck because the law is not strictly enforced. 

However, in some areas, like Chicago, it’s enforced more strictly than others. Many drivers report receiving a ticket for not having a front plate while parked at a meter or in an airport lot. It seems less common to be pulled over for this reason alone. 

In 2021, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White reminded motorists in a press release that state law requires a readable back and front plate to be displayed, and failure to display both plates can result in a $164 fine.

The reason some drivers choose to forgo a front license plate is because their vehicle does not have a front license plate holder. This is not uncommon with new vehicles. Dealerships sometimes offer the option to have holes drilled for a license plate. They might not even mention it in states that do not require front plates. 

If your vehicle does not have a place to mount a front license plate, you can have two holes drilled for screws. Alternatively, you can use a “no-drill” front license plate mounting kit. These kits usually have bracket mounts designed to attach to a bumper or a tow hook anchor. Some kits are simply adhesive-mounted brackets. 

Other Illinois License Plate Laws

In addition to requiring a front and rear license plate to be secured to the vehicle, Illinois bans the use of license plate covers. These covers include any designed to distort or cover the plate when recorded by an automated system like a toll booth camera. 

When a vehicle is registered for the first time, and every year registration is renewed, registration stickers are issued. Valid registration stickers must be displayed at all times on Illinois license plates. 

While it may be tempting to try your luck, especially if you want to avoid drilling holes in the bumper of a new vehicle, it isn’t worth it. License plate requirements are an important part of public safety to assist law enforcement and victims of crime or traffic accidents.

Contact Our Chicago Personal Injury Law Firm For Help Today

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Chicago, Illinois, and need legal help, contact our experienced personal injury lawyers at Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today.

We proudly serve Cook County and its surrounding areas:

Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers
134 N La Salle St #2160
Chicago, IL 60602

Phone: (312) 929-2884