Driving Without A License Plate In New York

by Adam Rosenblum on March 11, 2013

NY License Plate

New York State license plate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What Are The Rules With Respect To License Plates In New York?

The state of New York requires a license plate to be attached to both the front and rear of a vehicle, except for motorcycles, which require only one plate and is usually attached to the rear of the vehicle. The license plate number is used to find information describing the vehicle including the make, model, color year of manufacture, engine size, name and address of the vehicle’s registered owner and other pertinent information.

According to the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 402, a person cannot operate, drive or park a vehicle unless it has a distinctive number (license plate) assigned to it. The license plate cannot be visibly displayed and has to be securely fastened in the front and rear of the vehicle.   If a person is caught driving without a license plate in New York he or she will be charged $200 + $93 surcharge with no points added to his or her license.

Why Does New York Have Specific Rules On How License Plates Are Displayed?

First a license plate allows law enforcement to find basic information about the vehicle including registration status, whether there are any open traffic tickets or any attached criminal issues.  New York also uses high-tech cameras to capture certain traffic violations and for toll booth violations.  License Plate Recognition Technology (LPR), which uses cameras and computer software to recognize numbers and letters, has been found to be more accurate when a vehicle has both a front and a rear plate.

Having both front and rear license plate also generates revenue for the state. When states require two plates they can charge a higher fee for license plate renewal. These fees vary by state, but are generally higher than states that require only a single rear plate.

There are different types of license plates, such as a vanity plate that a vehicle owner can buy. A vanity plate or personalized plate is a special type of license plate on a vehicle. The owner pays extra money to have his or her own choice of letters or numbers, such as a slogan, phrase or abbreviation on their plate.  If you received a ticket for “No Distinctive Plate/Insecure/Dirty” please contact a traffic law attorney for more information.