Do You Need A Front License Plate In Colorado?

Whether you recently moved to Colorado or are simply curious, you may be wondering about the state’s requirements for front license plates on vehicles. The answer isn’t straightforward, as Colorado has unique laws regarding front plates compared to other states.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Colorado does not require front license plates for most passenger vehicles like cars, trucks, and SUVs. However, certain commercial vehicles like taxis, limos, buses, and delivery trucks do need front plates in Colorado.

Background on Colorado’s Front Plate Law

Colorado historically required two license plates to be displayed on all vehicles – one on the front and one on the back. This requirement was part of the state’s efforts to ensure proper identification and registration of vehicles.

The front license plate served as a means to easily identify vehicles from the front, which can be especially useful in cases of hit-and-run incidents or other traffic violations.

Law change in 2012

However, in 2012, Colorado made a significant change to its front plate law. The state passed a bill allowing certain vehicles to operate without a front license plate. This change was primarily aimed at reducing costs and streamlining the registration process for vehicle owners.

Under the updated law, passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and trucks weighing less than 16,000 pounds are no longer required to have a front license plate. This means that owners of these vehicles can choose to display only one license plate on the back.

It’s important to note that this law change does not apply to all vehicles. Commercial vehicles, trailers, and other heavy-duty trucks are still required to have both front and back license plates. Additionally, vehicles registered in other states that have a front plate requirement must comply with that state’s laws when driving in Colorado.

If you’re unsure whether your vehicle falls under the exemption for front license plates, it’s recommended to consult the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Division of Motor Vehicles website for the most up-to-date information.

Their website provides detailed guidelines and resources to help vehicle owners understand and comply with the state’s license plate requirements. You can visit their website at

Which Vehicles Need a Front Plate?

When it comes to vehicles in Colorado, the requirement for having a front license plate varies depending on the type of vehicle. Let’s take a closer look at which vehicles need a front plate and which ones are exempt.

Passenger vehicles exempt

Passenger vehicles, such as cars and trucks, are exempt from having a front license plate in Colorado. This means that if you own a regular passenger vehicle, you are not required by law to display a front license plate.

However, it’s important to note that while it may not be required, some vehicle owners still choose to display a front plate for personal preference or identification purposes.

Commercial and government vehicles required

On the other hand, commercial vehicles and government-owned vehicles are required to have a front license plate in Colorado. This includes vehicles such as delivery trucks, taxis, buses, and government-owned cars.

These vehicles are typically used for business or official purposes, and therefore, the front license plate is necessary for identification and enforcement purposes.

It’s important to comply with the laws and regulations regarding license plates in your state. Failure to display a required license plate can result in fines and penalties. If you’re unsure about whether your vehicle needs a front license plate, it’s best to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or refer to the official Colorado DMV website for more information.

Enforcement and Fines for No Front Plate

Police discretion on stops and tickets

In Colorado, it is required by law to have a front license plate displayed on your vehicle. However, the enforcement of this law can vary depending on the discretion of police officers. While some officers may be more lenient and give warnings for not having a front plate, others may choose to issue a ticket right away.

It’s important to note that even if you haven’t been pulled over specifically for not having a front plate, if you are stopped for another reason, the officer may still choose to ticket you for the missing plate.

It’s always a good idea to follow the law and display your front license plate to avoid any potential fines or tickets. Not only does it help you stay in compliance with the law, but it also ensures that law enforcement can easily identify your vehicle if necessary.

Typical fine amount

The fines for not having a front license plate in Colorado can vary depending on the city or county where the violation occurs. Generally, the fine can range from $50 to $200. It’s important to remember that this is just an estimate, and the actual fine amount may be different in your specific jurisdiction.

It’s always a good idea to check with your local law enforcement or municipal court for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding fines for not having a front license plate.

It’s worth noting that the cost of purchasing and installing a front license plate is typically much less than the potential fine for not having one. Therefore, it is recommended to comply with the law and avoid any unnecessary expenses.

How to Add or Remove the Front Plate

Adding a front plate

In Colorado, it is a legal requirement to have a front license plate displayed on your vehicle. Adding a front plate is a simple process that can be done in a few easy steps.

  1. Start by purchasing a front license plate bracket that is compatible with your vehicle make and model. You can find these brackets at auto parts stores or online retailers.
  2. Once you have the bracket, locate the designated mounting holes on the front bumper of your vehicle. These holes are typically pre-drilled and may be covered with plastic caps.
  3. Remove the plastic caps from the mounting holes, if present, and align the bracket with the holes.
  4. Secure the bracket to the bumper using the provided screws or fasteners. Make sure the bracket is tightly attached to ensure the front plate stays in place.
  5. Finally, insert your front license plate into the bracket and secure it with the necessary screws or clips. Ensure that the plate is properly aligned and securely fastened.

By following these steps, you can easily add a front license plate to your vehicle and ensure compliance with Colorado state law.

Removing an existing front plate

If you already have a front license plate on your vehicle and want to remove it, the process is relatively straightforward.

  1. Start by locating the screws or fasteners that are securing the front plate to the bracket or bumper.
  2. Using a screwdriver or appropriate tool, carefully remove the screws or fasteners, taking care not to scratch or damage the surrounding area.
  3. Once the screws or fasteners are removed, gently lift the license plate off the bracket or bumper.
  4. Inspect the bracket or bumper for any damage or residue left behind by the license plate. You may need to clean or repair the area if necessary.

It is important to note that removing the front license plate without a valid reason may result in a fine or penalty, as it is required by law in Colorado. If you have any concerns or questions about the legality of removing the front plate, it is recommended to consult with local authorities or refer to the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles website for more information.

Other Front Plate Rules to Know

Antique cars

If you own an antique car in Colorado, you may be wondering if you need to display a front license plate. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, antique cars that were manufactured before 1973 are exempt from the front license plate requirement.

However, it’s important to note that while you may not need a front plate, you will still need to display a valid rear license plate on your antique car.

Temporary and dealer plates

Temporary and dealer plates are often used for vehicles that are not yet registered or are being sold by a dealership. In Colorado, vehicles with temporary and dealer plates are not required to have a front license plate.

These plates are typically valid for a limited period of time, such as 30 days, and are used as a temporary solution until the vehicle is properly registered.

Newly registered vehicles

When you register a new vehicle in Colorado, you will be issued license plates by the Department of Revenue. In most cases, new vehicles will receive both a front and rear license plate. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule.

Motorcycles, for example, are only required to have a rear license plate. Additionally, some specialty vehicles, such as off-road vehicles or snowmobiles, may be exempt from the front license plate requirement.

It’s always best to check with the Department of Revenue or your local DMV office to determine the specific requirements for your newly registered vehicle.

For more information on Colorado license plate requirements, you can visit the official website of the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles.


In summary, Colorado has unique front license plate laws that only require certain commercial and government vehicles to display plates on both the front and back of vehicles. Regular passenger cars and light trucks are not mandated to have front plates. However, some vehicle owners still opt to keep their front plates on, while others choose to remove them.

Knowing the specifics of Colorado’s regulations can help you stay compliant. But don’t hesitate to check with your local DMV or law enforcement if you have any additional questions about requirements for your own vehicle.

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