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Running with No Front Plate?


Well-Known Member
Aug 7, 2012
Toronto, ON
I drove my car for several weeks around Ottawa with no front plates and no one noticed. Then again around here we have plenty of cars from Quebec so it doesn't stand out or anything. Mind you I did drive to Toronto a couple of times.

Being in Ottawa so close to Quebec, the cops aren't "surprised" to see cars without front plates like they are where I am. I rarely see a car without a front plate, and if I do, it is quite noticable, and I'll usually try to catch a glimpse of the back plate to see where they're from (mostly Quebec).


Active Member
Jul 25, 2012
Marina, San Francisco
I haven't used a front plate on my cars for 30 years. I get a 'fix it' ticket about every 10 years, put the plate on, pay the 30 bucks or so, go home, take the plate off, and wait 10 years for the next ticket.

A couple of times I was waiting on a corner for 30 minutes and decided to count how many cars passed without front plates. It varies from 5-10% of cars--a lot when you think about it.

The nicer the car the less likely to see a plate here in sf.


Driving on Sunshine
May 4, 2011
Well, I finally got my richly deserved comeuppance. I parked my car all day in the public garage in Santa Barbara to go to the International Film Festival last week (saw 4 films in one day!) I came out at night and there was a ticket on the car--no front plate. My first ticket on any of my cars without a front plate in 10 years! Anyhow, the fine on the ticket said $48, I had to fix it, go to a police station and pay another $25 to verify the plate was back on the car.

In the morning I put the front plate on (with a bolt in the towing slot) and went to the police station. They only charged me $10 total and sent me on my way!

Now for that price, couldn't I just pay up a hundred bucks up front and leave the plate off forever? Anyway, the plate comes back off the car this weekend and I will take my chances.

A couple years ago there was a Roadster run in the Malibu Hills. There were about 50 Roadsters. More than half didn't have a front plate. So that must make it right!

BTW on a different day I parked next to a Very Orange Signature 100 Roadster. But that is another story.

Sun 3 Feb 2012 008.JPG


Active Member
Jun 3, 2011
SF Bay Area
It's a timing / location thing.

If you're in the HOV lane, you might get pulled over if the cop hasn't pulled anyone over recently.
If you're at the end of the month and the cop needs to make his quota, you might get pulled over.

I got a front license plate ticket because the cop was mad he couldn't actually catch me speeding in my pickup. So, he settled for that. When I went to the local Police station to get the fix approved, they commented that they never pull people over for this. The cop that pulled me over must have been CHP or something else.

I have a front plate on my Roadster because the car gets attention. I have a real carbon fiber frame around it, which helps me tolerate it. Mostly.

BTW, I thought the Steve Job's frequent car replacement thing was because he didn't want to have a license plate that people could use to identify him on the road and hassle him.


Feb 3, 2013
I have not had a front plate on my California cars for more than 25 years and never received a ticket. Once was pulled over, the cop using the lack of front plate as an reason, but no ticket. Damn lucky as I blew a 0.07.


Burrito Founder
Nov 10, 2011
I'm going to have a sign shop make my plate into a sticker. It will form to the bumper and still be (close to) legal;)
Goofy Graphics will do this for you in Morro Bay, CA. They charged me $12. You would have to pay shipping.
I asked Metropolitan Detail about this option and as they were exploring doing it for me, they recommended strongly against it. Something about the aspect ratio or the sizing or whatever w/r/t placement on the Model S front end.
In Ontario we have reflective plates. So the sticker will be reflective. We also have special green plates for electric cars. They are not required but give a free pass on HOV lanes. i think they might be used for ev charging/parking spots like wheelchair stickers, no green plate parking ticket? My town (22,000 pop) has yet to give any out, so police will not know if the sticker plate is something new. From the side it will almost be invisible because of no cheap looking plastic bracket. I just have to take this car one step past stock for the sake of aerodynamics also! my .02.

Model S

Sep 7, 2010
Just got a ticket for having no front license plate on my Model S this morning. I was cruising on the 405 North HOV lane (with stickers) near Irvine minding my own business when CHP Motorcycle cop pulled me over, commented on my tinted windows, walked to the front of the car to comment on my lack of front plate, and then gave me a warning for the tint, and a fix it ticket for the license plate. I guess I should feel lucky, but still I feel he had ulterior motives for pulling me over given that so many cars on the freeway had no front plate and/or tint (I was counting while he was writing me up).

I may just suck it up and have Tesla drill in the holes for the mount (not really interested in all those workarounds), and then consider whether to take off the mount the next week (depends on how ugly the drill holes look like). For now I'm inclined to keep the plate on, given that the car tends to attract more attention than the average car.

Model S

Sep 7, 2010
I don't believe DOT requires new cars to accommodate a front plate. You'd think that the federal requirement would trump the state requirement.

Federal preemption is a complex area of the law, but unless an entire field of the law is taken over by Federal law (as people used to think was the case with immigration law until the controversial Arizona laws were litigated), the general rule is that Federal law only trumps state law to the extent there is a conflict. If Federal law is silent on the subject (as is probably the case here), the the state is free to add its own requirement.


Dec 10, 2012
San Diego, CA
California requires plates but I've never put a front license plate on any of my cars. Never have had any problems. I've driven right past cops numerous times with no issue. Likes others have said, it does greatly deal on where you live. In San Diego it seems to be pretty lenient (knock on wood), but I know in LA it is generally more strict in that regard. I just keep the front plate and mounting bracket in my trunk just in case.


Feb 3, 2013
I haven't had front plates in California for more then 30 years. Never got a ticket but did get stopped once with no ticket issued.

- - - Updated - - -

I haven't had front plates in California for more then 30 years. Never got a ticket but did get stopped once with no ticket issued.


Active Member
May 16, 2012
Still no comments about 'driving without' in another state, where you'd think you would be immune from being ticketed. Any experience with this?


Active Member
Jan 17, 2013
Leesburg Virginia
Still no comments about 'driving without' in another state, where you'd think you would be immune from being ticketed. Any experience with this?
Washington DC likes to issue tickets to parked cars without front plates particularly from neighboring Virginia and Maryland where I guess the parking enforcement knows it is required.


Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2013
2 yrs ownership on Sunday @ ~47K miles. No issues without a plate thus far, despite a couple of looks from troopers as I drove by, and one pull-over.

As per DFibRL8R's post above, I drive in to DC only occasionally but wouldn't have been surprised that if I would have had a problem, that's where it would have been...

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