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Ohio needs to punt the plate

Register • Mar 5, 2014 at 7:09 AM

Motorists would only be required to display a single license plate on the rear of their vehicles under a proposal pending in the Ohio house.

Despite opposition, mostly from law enforcement and security firms, this co-sponsored proposal makes a lot of sense to us.

Most importantly, the state would save about $1.4 million each year in license plate production and distribution costs.

The law requiring two license plates dates to an era where every vehicle had two chrome bumpers. Today’s vehicles feature molded, plastic front fascias, sometimes making the requirement for a front license plate an ugly, bug-catching albatross on modern engineering marvels.

But Ohio shouldn’t eliminate front plates just on appearances alone. The fact is most states east of the Mississippi only require one license plate, including every state that shares a border with Ohio. Therefore, if you buy a used car from Michigan or Pennsylvania, you must also purchase and install a front license plate bracket.  And if front plates were so important to law enforcement, why have registration stickers on the back plate only?

Truth be told, it’s a revenue issue. Having a second plate makes it easier to photograph those who run stop signs and red lights, don't pay tolls or drive out of unattended pay garages and parking lots without paying, according to a 2012 Texas A&M study on the issue. Linking automatic license plate readers to databases potentially makes it easier to track down scofflaws electronically instead of having human eyeballs view every image to identify license plate numbers, the study said. That can add up to millions of dollars in savings and millions more in additional revenue collected – mostly by private companies, not necessarily the state.

We believe it’s time Ohio becomes consistent with its neighboring states, save its taxpayers some money and punt the front plate.

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