Can You Put The Front License Plate On The Dash In California?

Californians may want to display just a rear plate to show off their car’s design. But could putting the front plate on the dash get you a ticket? Read on to learn more.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: California vehicle code requires the front license plate to be properly mounted and visible, so placing it on the dashboard is illegal.

This article will examine California’s laws on front license plates, consequences for improper mounting, reasons for the requirements, and ways drivers attempt to comply while also displaying their car’s front design.

California Law Mandates Front Plates

In the state of California, it is a legal requirement to have a front license plate displayed on your vehicle. This mandate is in place to ensure proper identification of vehicles and maintain public safety. Failure to comply with this law can result in fines and penalties.

Must be properly mounted and clearly visible

According to California Vehicle Code Section 5200, the front license plate must be securely attached to the front of the vehicle. It should be mounted in a position where it is clearly visible and legible from a distance.

This allows law enforcement officers and other individuals to easily identify the vehicle and its registration information.

It is important to note that simply placing the front license plate on the dashboard or windshield of the vehicle does not meet the requirements of proper mounting. The plate should be affixed to the designated area on the front of the vehicle, typically the front bumper or grille.

Obstructing it with other items is illegal

California law also prohibits obstructing the front license plate with any objects or devices. This includes items such as covers, frames, or any other accessory that obstructs the plate’s visibility. The license plate should be free from any obstructions that may hinder its legibility.

It is worth mentioning that some car owners may be tempted to place the front license plate on the dashboard to avoid drilling holes into the front bumper or grille. However, this practice is not in compliance with the law and can result in citations and fines.

To ensure compliance with the law, it is recommended to properly mount the front license plate as required by California Vehicle Code. This will not only help you avoid potential legal issues but also contribute to the overall safety and identification of your vehicle.

Fines and Fees for Improper Mounting

Fix-it ticket up to $25

If you’re wondering whether you can put the front license plate on the dash in California, it’s important to know the potential consequences of improper mounting. In California, the law requires vehicles to display license plates on both the front and rear of the vehicle.

Failure to comply with this requirement can result in a fix-it ticket, which is a citation that allows you to correct the violation within a specified time frame.

When it comes to improper mounting of the front license plate, California Vehicle Code Section 5200 states that the license plate must be securely fastened to the front of the vehicle, and in a position that is clearly visible.

Placing the front license plate on the dash does not meet these requirements and can result in a fix-it ticket.

The cost of a fix-it ticket for improper mounting of the front license plate in California can vary, but it is typically around $25. This fee is in addition to the cost of properly mounting the license plate on the vehicle.

It’s important to address the violation promptly to avoid any additional fees or penalties.

Add-on fines with other violations

In addition to the initial fix-it ticket fee, there may be additional fines if you are cited for improper mounting of the front license plate along with other violations. For example, if you are pulled over for speeding and the officer also notices that your front license plate is improperly mounted, you may be subject to additional fines for both violations.

The exact amount of the additional fines will depend on the specific violations and the discretion of the issuing officer. It’s best to ensure that your front license plate is properly mounted to avoid any potential add-on fines.

For more information on California’s laws regarding license plate mounting and related fines, you can visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Purposes of the Front Plate Law

California law requires vehicles to display a front license plate for several important reasons. These purposes serve to ensure public safety, facilitate law enforcement activities, and enable efficient toll road fee collection.

Vehicle identification during incidents

One of the primary purposes of the front plate law is to aid in vehicle identification during incidents. In the unfortunate event of a hit-and-run or other crime involving a vehicle, having a front license plate can help law enforcement agencies quickly identify the vehicle involved.

This identification can be crucial in apprehending suspects and providing justice for victims. Without a front plate, it becomes more challenging to identify vehicles involved in incidents, increasing the difficulty of investigations.

Automated toll road fee collection

Another important purpose of the front plate law is to facilitate automated toll road fee collection. Many toll road systems rely on electronic transponders or cameras to capture license plate information and charge drivers accordingly.

By requiring a front license plate, toll road authorities can ensure accurate and efficient fee collection. Without a front plate, toll road systems may encounter difficulties in capturing the necessary information, leading to delays, errors, and potential revenue loss.

It’s worth noting that not all states have front plate requirements, but California has deemed it necessary for the aforementioned reasons. The law aims to strike a balance between public safety and convenience by enabling law enforcement agencies to identify vehicles involved in incidents and toll road authorities to efficiently collect fees.

Creative Solutions to Show the Front Design

While it is a legal requirement in California to display a front license plate, many vehicle owners find it aesthetically displeasing or inconvenient to mount it on the front bumper. Luckily, there are some creative solutions that allow you to showcase the front plate design without compromising on style or functionality.

Using clear plastic plate covers

One popular option is to use clear plastic plate covers. These covers not only protect your license plate from dirt and damage but also allow you to display it on the dashboard without obstructing the view.

Clear plastic covers come in various sizes and designs, allowing you to choose one that suits your vehicle’s interior and personal style. By using this solution, you can comply with the law while maintaining a sleek and clean look.

Mounting plate off-center or low

If you prefer a more subtle approach, you can consider mounting the front license plate off-center or low on the front bumper. This technique not only adds a unique touch to your vehicle’s appearance but also keeps the plate visible to law enforcement.

However, it is crucial to ensure that the plate is still easily readable and complies with the regulations set by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

When exploring these creative solutions, it’s important to remember that the primary purpose of displaying a front license plate is to ensure easy identification of your vehicle. By finding a balance between compliance and personal style, you can showcase the front design while adhering to the law.


California’s vehicle code clearly requires properly mounted and visible front license plates. While placing the plate on the dash may seem like a workaround, it is still illegal.

To avoid tickets while still displaying a car’s front design, drivers should look for creative mounting solutions that don’t obstruct or hide the plate.

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