A House Democrat’s effort to do away with the state’s front license plate requirement has been resuscitated to a lesser degree after legislators stripped the provision from the state transportation budget bill.
Republican Rep. Anthony DeVitis of Uniontown has introduced House Bill 71, which would specify that failure to display a front license plate on a motor vehicle that requires such display is a secondary traffic offense.
The measure is a compromise of Cincinnati Rep. Alicia Reece’s provision included in the transportation budget bill, which cleared the House of Representatives last week.
Reece proposed abolishing the requirement, which would save Ohio taxpayers $1.4 million annually, according to Department of Public Safety estimates.
Additionally, she argued Ohio border states do not require display of front license plates.
She also contended that it was because of the arbitrary rule that a city motorist who initially was stopped for not displaying the license plate on the front of his car, wound up dead after a University of Cincinnati police officer shot and killed the man who apparently tried to flee, according to published reports.
Public Safety officials have maintained throughout the debate that the front license plate is instrumental in police identification of motorist violations on Ohio roadways.
Reece has said she will continue “to fight for commonsense changes to Ohio’s transportation laws, such as removing the front license plate requirement.”
Until that time, HB 71 is a step toward that end.
According to language of the measure, “no law enforcement officer shall do either of the following solely because the owner or operator of a motor vehicle has failed to display a license plate in plain view on the front of the motor vehicle in violation … of this section:
- “Cause the operator of the motor vehicle to stop the motor vehicle for the purpose of issuing a ticket, citation, or summons for the violation, or causing the arrest or commencing a prosecution of the operator for the violation; (or)
- “Issue a ticket, citation, or summons to the owner of a parked motor vehicle for the violation, or cause the arrest or commence the prosecution of such owner for the violation.”
The secondary-offense status would place non-display of a front license plate on par with the current seatbelt law for an adult motorist — the driver only can be cited for the offense after being stopped or cited for a primary violation.
In addition to making the required display of a front license plate a secondary offense, HB 71 would establish a maximum fine of $100 for such an offense.
Such a misdemeanor would not result in points on an individual’s driver’s license that could lead toward a suspension, according to the bill.
Additionally, it is considered a strict liability offense, making Section 2901.20 of the Revised Code inapplicable.
Fifteen fellow House members joined DeVitis to cosponsor the measure, which had not been scheduled for a first hearing as of publication.