October 8, 2018
Ask the Chief
Q: I have noticed a couple of vehicles in town not displaying a front license plate. Is this a requirement or is it optional?
Thank you for this question. The short answer--and a good rule of thumb to follow-- is if the state of issuance provides you with two plates, then you are required to mount both plates to the vehicle assigned. Plates must be mounted on the outer most edge of the vehicle, NOT placed in the windshield of the vehicle!
Vehicle license plate display is covered under Minnesota Statute 169.79, Vehicle Registration, Displaying License Plates. Subdivision 7 states: All plates must be (1) securely fastened so as to prevent them from swinging, (2) displayed horizontally with the identifying numbers and letters facing outward from the vehicle, and (3) mounted in the upright position. The person driving the motor vehicle shall keep the plate legible and unobstructed and free from grease, dust, or other blurring material so that the lettering is plainly visible at all times. It is unlawful to cover any assigned letters and numbers or the name of the state of origin of a license plate with any material whatever, including any clear or colorless material that affects the plate's visibility or reflectivity.
Also, when displaying registration tabs, the month of expiration must be placed in the lower left corner of each license plate with the year of expiration displayed in the lower right corner of the license plate. I would like to add in reference to tab placement, your license plate is NOT a bingo card--placing expiration year stickers down the center and four corners is not allowed and yes, I have seen this done and yes, the driver was ticketed.
Minnesota Statute does allow for only one plate to be displayed in special circumstances, such as with motorcycles, scooters, farm tractor-trailers, and other situations. Please refer to the statute for exemptions.
Violation of this statute is a petty misdemeanor, with a potential fine of $30 and $75 surcharge fee for a total cost of $105.
1. Minnesota Statute 169. 79, Vehicle Registration, Displaying License Plates. Located online at https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/169.79
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