COLUMBUS – Starting Wednesday, Ohio’s drivers can ditch their front license plates.
The change in state law, approved last summer, will bring Ohio in line with 19 other states, including Indiana and Kentucky, that require one license plate.
The change isn’t welcomed by everyone. Police officers, school bus drivers and even ride-share companies Uber and Lyft campaigned to keep two license plates.
They argued that license plates were a crime-fighting tool. Cameras mounted on police cruisers can capture up to 3,000 images of license plates during an eight-hour shift. Those license plate numbers are checked against databases for stolen vehicles, warrants and missing people.
The technology helped to find the vehicle of Reagan Tokes, an Ohio State University student killed in February 2017. It also helped in the homicide case of a University of South Carolina student.
“It is irrefutable that this is an incredible tool in fighting crimes and solving crimes,” said Sen. Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, who introduced legislation to require two license plates.
Ultimately, proponents of two license plates were unsuccessful.
Reinstating the front license plate was an “uphill battle” in the Ohio House of Representatives, where key lawmakers backed car enthusiasts’ concerns about damaging vehicles’ front bumpers, Hottinger said.
Others, such as former Rep. Alicia Reece, argued that making crimes of minor offenses, such as missing license plates, could lead to racial profiling.
A missing front license plate was one factor in Sam DuBose’s traffic stop on July 19, 2015. Then-University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing later fatally shot DuBose. Tensing was tried twice for murder, but both ended in mistrials and the charges were later dismissed.
Here’s what you need to know about Ohio’s change to one license plate.
When can I take my front license plate off my Ohio vehicle?
Starting Wednesday, most Ohio vehicles won’t need a front license plate.
Can I keep two license plates on my vehicle?
Yes. An Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman said drivers can request two plates going forward.
Do some vehicles still need two license plates?
Yes. Certain commercial vehicles will need two plates.
What’s the penalty for not displaying a license plate?
The minor misdemeanor offense is punishable by a fine up to $150.
Will I save money on license plates from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles?
The cost savings is about $1.25. The current registration fee is about $13.25 and it will drop to $12. But that cost can change depending on the vehicle type.
Ohio is expected to save $1.4 million each year on creating front license plates.
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