Bill would ditch Iowa’s requirement for front bumper license plates

BY O. KAY HENDERSON/Radio Iowa

Two Republican senators are working on a bill that would end the requirement that Iowa license plates be attached to the front as well as the rear of passenger vehicles.

The owners of sports cars and vehicles with large front grills complain that license plates ruin the appearance of the vehicle.

“All of brackets that you see on people’s front bumpers are aftermarket, usually done by the dealer, hopefully, done by the dealer,” Brad Epperly, a lobbyist for the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association, said during a Senate subcommittee hearing. “That’s the other part of this which is there is a growing amount of technology in the bumpers themselves. We do have do-it-yourselfers out there. Mounting a bracket does potentially jeopardize the technology that’s in the bumper.”

Iowa law enforcement agencies oppose the move. Iowa State Patrol Captain Mark Stein said having a front plate to identify a vehicle is critical in hit and runs, Amber Alerts, and other investigations.

“The International Association of Chiefs of Police also recognize that over 70% of serious crimes involve a vehicle component, making identification of that vehicle crucial in apprehending suspects,” Stein said, “and that front and rear license plates double the opportunity for law enforcement or witnesses to capture license plate information.”

Others said a front license plate is a key identifier for people using a ride-sharing service, like Uber. Senator Waylon Brown of Osage is one of the two Republicans working on the legislation to ditch the front plate requirement.

“We do have a collector car situation where we don’t want to do damage to those vehicles and I understand that there are after-market options,” Brown said. “I also look at the fact that a lot of our vehicles are manufactured without a place to put them.”

Last year, Ohio became the 20th state to pass a law getting rid of a front-plate requirement for cars, SUVs and other passenger vehicles. Plates are still required in all states on the front of commercial vehicles, like semi tractors.