Do you need two license plates in Texas? Learn more about licenses here

By Product Expert | Posted in Texas, Tips and Tricks on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018 at 9:07 pm
old Texas license plate on a wall

In our blog about vehicle problems that are illegal to drive with in Texas, we mentioned that an unreadable license plate is something that can get you pulled over, but do you know the rest of the Texas license plate laws? Make sure you are driving legally, and with up-to-date registration by following these rules.

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Texas License Plate Laws

Front and Rear Plates Are Required

Texas license plate on a wallOnly 31 of the 50 states require license plates on the front and rear of a vehicle, but Texas is one of them. Not displaying two license plates is a misdemeanor that could get you a fine up to $200! Both plates should be on the bumpers of the vehicle (front and rear), no more than 12 inches from the road. The rear license plate must also be illuminated clearly enough to be seen from 50 feet away. You will also need current registration stickers on the rear plate.

How long do I have to get plates after I buy a car?

If you have just moved to Texas, or have purchased a vehicle, you have 30 days to title and register it. When you get a car from a dealership usually they will handle the registration process on your behalf and you are legal to drive with the temporary plate from the dealership until your official plates arrive. If you are buying a car privately, you will have to get a temporary permit and register your vehicle within five days.

How can I replace my plates?

If you have lost your license plates, knocked them off in an accident, or they are just too worn-out to read and are due for replacement, you can get new ones for a small fee. You will need to visit your local tax assessor’s office with the plates you still have, a form, and payment. This form is also the way to get a new registration sticker if yours is lost from your vehicle. Cost is currently $6 and a $0.50 automation fee. We aren’t sure if this is per plate, or for a full replacement. If you are transferring your plates from one vehicle to another you will need to fill out paperwork but there is no fee.

3 Responses to “Do you need two license plates in Texas? Learn more about licenses here”

  1. Mary Thorsen says:

    I can not keep a front license plate on my car. It keeps falling off. I have a 2007 chev Impala. So I have put in the front window so I do not keep losing the plate. I have got tried of having to buy every few months to put license plates on the car. It has a fiberglass bumper on the car. I see a lot of cars where I live that do not even have a front license plate on the car but have it up in the front window. White Settlement, Tx. seem to be the only one that seems to enforce. How came other officers that are not in White Settlement do not do it. I have gone by a lot of Ft. Worth Policeman and no one ever stopped me before. I have had my license plate up in the front window now for all most 6 years. When I have talked to Ft. Worth Police before they have told me as long as the can see it when it is up in the window it would be fine. I think everyone should be on the same page. Their is to many different things being told or being done. Like to know what to do about the license plate being in the front window when it will not stay on their. I have tried zip ties, wire & screws to hold it in, but it only last a few months. The license plate would be their one day and then next time it would be gone. Or when I leave home it would be their but when I get home it is gone again. What to do?

  2. I was stop by a small town police officer, he was rude but I didn’t argue,. He wanted to know why I had two license plate one out of state and a temporary tag. I explained that it’s not my car and the tags are being sent and since it’s not my car I can’t take the original license plate off. But I still got a ticket.. where can I find the correct answer???

  3. David Stripling says:

    The original statute in the Texas Transportation code was unclear on the precise location of the fron license plate, That issue was settled by case law (https://caselaw.findlaw.com/tx-court-of-criminal-appeals/1538320.html) by the Court of Criminal Appeals in Lubbock, TX. This case was Tawin Spence and the reason it was appealed was that this offense provided the PC (probable cause) for contact with the defendent that eventually led to a drug arrest. The defense, as is their job, was to try to show that the officer had no PC and, therefore, any “fruits” (drugs in this case) that came from that contact could not be the the basis of a chargeable crime. Since the original offense (the licence plate) is a misdemeanor, enforcement is a “may”, not a “shall” and is, therefore, at the observing officer’s discretion whether not to take enforcement action. This, and the fact that many officers are not aware or have forgotten about this case, is possibly why different folks get different responses from different officers. Hope this is helpful.

    David