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Driving You Crazy: Is a license plate in the front windshield of a vehicle in Colorado legal or not?

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Posted at 6:16 AM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2021-08-30 10:46:58-04

Jon from Littleton writes, “I was under the impression that a license plate in the front windshield of a vehicle was a satisfactory display for the plate on the front of the vehicle. My friend's vehicle had been hit in a parking lot which made the mount for the plate loose and unsecure, and thus put the plate in the window. She was at the courthouse downtown and was ticketed for not having the plate displayed. I'm going to continue to look, but I would appreciate any input you have.”

I’ve seen this as well, Jon. Many times, it is a large truck without a designated plate holder or very beat up car with a loose or no bumper that the owner put the license plate on the dashboard. Looking at the law regarding license plates in Colorado, I can understand why some vehicle owners are unsure how to display a front license plate. This is what the law states: “The owner shall attach the number plates assigned to a self-propelled vehicle, other than a motorcycle or street rod vehicle, to the vehicle with one in the front and the other in the rear.”

The problem with that wording of the law is that it didn’t say much specifically about the front plate. In 2018 the state legislature clarified the law to read: “The front license plate must be (A) DISPLAYED HORIZONTALLY ON THE FRONT OF A MOTOR VEHICLE IN THE LOCATION DESIGNATED BY THE MOTOR VEHICLE MANUFACTURER; (B) MAINTAINED FREE FROM FOREIGN MATERIALS; AND (C) CLEARLY LEGIBLE.”

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However, there are times, like the situation with your friend, when you might not be able to attach the front plate. Police tell me it is the responsibility of the owner to get the mount fixed and sticking the license plate in the front windshield is not legal. Anecdotally, my brother-in-law had to install a special bracket on the front of his new car to hold the front plate. So, it can be a problem for new car owners as well. A person who violates the front plate law commits a class B traffic infraction with a fine between $15 to $100.

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes , Stitcher , Google Play or Podbean.