Drivers in Missouri may be confused about whether the law requires all registered vehicles to display a license plate in both the front and back of the car. That confusion is understandable. As you go about your day in St. Louis, you are likely to see vehicles that don’t have a front plate. This can lead to misunderstandings about the law.

Understanding Missouri Law Regarding License Plates

Regardless of what some drivers may assume, statute 301.130 RSMo states that after the proper applications and fees have been registered, the state will issue a “set” of license plates that include the following:

  • The abbreviated name of the state
  • The words “Show-Me State”
  • The month and year the registration expires
  • An arrangement of numbers, letters, or a combination of both

In addition, the plates will be made to be visible at night. Special plates for veterans and members of the National Guard may show some variations but will still meet the basic requirements. 

Section 5 (301.130.5) clarifies that no motor vehicle or trailer is considered operable on state highways unless the issued plates are displayed. Plates may be displayed in a transparent case as long as it doesn’t impair their visibility in any way.

However, there are some exceptions to 301.130.5, and those exceptions may be the cause of confusion. In several instances, 301.130.5 says “plate or plates,” indicating that, in some cases, a single plate may be acceptable. 

An Exception To the Law

Large vehicles like trucks, tractors, buses (other than school buses), and vehicles that weigh more than 12,000 pounds may only be required to display a front license plate and not a back plate. However, many truckers and commercial drivers opt to display both front and back plates. 

Since it is never illegal to post a license plate in both places, doing so keeps them in compliance with the law, no matter what state they’re driving in. 

Even with this exception, it is the back plate, not the front, that’s considered optional. One reason is that many large vehicles are hauling trailers that already have a license plate on the back.  

Is It a Serious Offense To Remove Your Front License Plate?

The failure to properly display license plates is considered to be a primary traffic offense in Missouri. Primary offenses give police the authority to stop a vehicle and issue a citation. 

Other primary offenses include:

The fine for failure to display license plates properly is currently $30.50, according to the Missouri DMV. 

Is the Law Enforced?

Pulling drivers over for not displaying a front license plate is likely not the priority for most law enforcement officers. Responding to more serious issues like car accidents and other incidents where citizens may be harmed understandably takes precedence.  

However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be stopped and cited for improper plate display. Missouri is one of 31 states that requires a license plate to be affixed to both the front and back of a vehicle, and the state does enforce that law. 

Follow Missouri’s License Plate Law

The fine for not displaying a front plate may be small, but multiple fines can land you in legal hot water and may even lead to suspension of your driver’s license. In a world where people must deal with catastrophic injuries, illness, and other major crises, the proper display of your license plate may not seem like a major issue, but it is Missouri law.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Missouri, MO

If you’ve been injured, please contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

St. Louis, MO Law Office
1430 Washington Ave Ste 225, St. Louis, MO 63103
(314) 444-4444

Ladue, MO Law Office
9807 S 40 Dr, St. Louis, MO 63124

Columbia, MO Law Office
28 N 8th St # 502, Columbia, MO 65201

Creve Coeur, MO Law Office 
999 Executive Pkwy Dr #205, Creve Coeur, MO 63141