Years ago, I was traveling in a work vehicle and was pulled over, and cited for not having a front license plate.

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I believed that this was a ridiculous excuse to pull me over and get a better look at me for other reasons. I was telling the story again recently and wondered about it.

Is it legal to drive without a front plate in Connecticut?

The short answer is no. According to insurance.com, you have to display a front and rear plate on your vehicle in Connecticut, or you could be pulled over and issued a fine. Connecticut is one of 30 states where this is the case.

There seems to be an interesting wrinkle here. According to GetJerry, if you've been issued just one plate by the State of CT, you're only required to display that plate on the rear of the vehicle. Apparently, this is extremely rare because they also say Connecticut almost always issues both plates.

This is how the language reads for Chapter 246 Section 14-18 of the Connecticut penal code:

“Each motor vehicle for which one number plate has been issued shall, while in use or operation upon any public highway, display in a conspicuous place at the rear of such vehicle the number plate. Each motor vehicle for which two number plates have been issued shall, while in use or operation upon any public highway, display in a conspicuous place at the front and the rear of such vehicle the number plates.”

Basically, display both plates because the GetJerry report also mentions the following:

If a Connecticut law enforcement officer has lingering suspicions about you or your vehicle, they may reserve the right to pull you over for lack of a front license plate as a way to assess if there are more serious legal violations in play.
In fact, the most common scenario in which Connecticut drivers are cited for not having a front license plate is during traffic control checkpoints. These are typically state-funded traffic stops during which officers are expected to issue tickets or even make arrests.
All in all, the penalty for driving without a front license plate in Connecticut largely depends on the circumstances. If you conduct yourself in a compliant and respectful manner while pulled over, there’s a good chance the officer will issue you a verbal warning. At worst, you could get a ticket fine in the $100 range.
It appears there is some grey area here if you found yourself in a courtroom. But you'd only have a leg to stand on if you could prove that the DMV only issued you a rear plate.
But, 99% of us are given two plates and you have to have them both. Do you want to leave it up to chance? If you want to drive without a front plate, move to West Virginia or Mississippi where it is legal to do so.

P.S. To my friends over the border in New York, you need two plates as well.

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