If your state issues you two plates, you must put one on the front and one on the rear of your vehicle. There are a few states, such as Florida, that only issue you one license plate. When only one plate is issued, it is usually required to be placed on the back of your vehicle.

California and New York both require you to have both your front and back license plates, which the DMV issues you, to be properly attached to your vehicle or you can be ticketed by law enforcement.

Specifically, California Vehicle Code 5200 requires two license plates to be attached, one to the front and one to the back of all automobiles and light-duty trucks.

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Written by:
Shivani Gite
Contributing Writer
Shivani Gite is a personal finance and insurance writer with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She is passionate about making insurance topics easy to understand for people and helping them make better financial decisions. When not writing, you can find her reading a book or watching anime.
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Reviewed by:
Laura Longero
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Executive Editor
Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Can you drive with one license plate in New York?

The New York State DMV states that they have issued you two vehicle plates for your vehicle; you must use both vehicle plates. Put one vehicle plate on the front of the vehicle and one vehicle plate on the back of the car. There are no exemptions to this requirement. They say if there is only one location on your vehicle to attach a vehicle plate, contact a parts store to get a device to attach the other to your vehicle.

The New York State Police and other law enforcement agencies recommend that vehicles display two vehicle plates. They use reflective material for the vehicle plates and the two vehicle plates improve the visibility of cars at night.

The New York State DMV does issue only one vehicle plate for some vehicles. These vehicles include trailers, motorcycles, and the tractor unit of a tractor-trailer.

Can you drive with one license plate in Missouri?

In Missouri, the DMV notes that the law requires that license plates be securely fastened to a vehicle and that all parts of the plates be visible and clean for view or inspection by any law enforcement entity. If you have frames around your license plates, the Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds you that the frames must not cover any part of the plates.

If the Missouri Department of Revenue issues you two plates, you must place one on the front and one on the back of your vehicle. In this state, if you have a trailer or a motorcycle, you will only receive one plate, which must be on the back of your vehicle.

If you have a truck licensed in excess of 12,000 pounds, you will only receive one plate, which must be placed on the front of the truck. If you want a second plate, it must be specifically requested. You must place the original plate on the front of your truck, and if a second plate is issued, it must be placed on the rear.

Some states require two license plates

There are 30 states and D.C. that require both a front and rear license plate. This includes the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut, which have, in recent years, gone back to requiring two plates after previously only requiring one plate.

Front plates are believed to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement and the new technologies they now use, such as laser guns used to catch speeders.

To determine what your particular state requires regarding the number of license plates attached to a motor vehicle, contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles. This state agency should also be able to advise you as to what the penalty would be if you drive with one license plate if two are required.

— Michelle Megna contributed to this story.

Laura Longero

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Laura Longero

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Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

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Contributing Writer

Shivani Gite is a personal finance and insurance writer with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She is passionate about making insurance topics easy to understand for people and helping them make better financial decisions. When not writing, you can find her reading a book or watching anime.