Front license plates will no longer be required for Utah vehicles if this bill passes

Utah "Arches" license plate, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Utah Department of Motor Vehicles, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Utah drivers will no longer be required to have a license plate on the front of their vehicles if the bill proposed by Sen. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton, passes during the final days of this year’s legislative session.

Utah Daniel McCay speaks to the House Revenue and Taxation Committee about SB 45, Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 13, 2024 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Legislature, St. George News

The license plate revisions bill, designated SB 45 in the 2024 Utah legislation, is intended to end the front license plate requirement and also streamline and centralize the process of license plate production and distribution. Doing so will help save the state and taxpayers money, McCay told the House Revenue and Taxation Committee during a Feb. 13 hearing.

The idea behind the bill grew out of constituents telling McCay they didn’t like having to drill holes in the bumpers of their cars for the front plates and asked if there was a way to do away with the requirement.

“We started to look at compliance — what our compliance was in the state as far as front license plates — and found it’s actually really low,” McCay said.

What followed were meetings with the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles and Utah Highway Patrol on the matter that led to the framework of McCay’s bill.

If the bill passes, Utah drivers will see the cost of new license plates reduced by half while the state will save around $3.50 per plate that isn’t printed. McCay told ABC4 that the streamlining of license plate distribution proposed in the bill is estimated to save the state some $3 million.

“Historic Black and White” license plate, one of 69 special group plates offered through the Utah DMV | Image courtesy of the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles, St. George News

The bill would also give $1 of the license plate application fees to the UHP for the recruitment and training of new troopers.

While motorists will save on the application fee by only needing one plate instead of two, those applying for personalized plates will end up paying an additional $25 under the bill. This increased fee will help fund the process as filtering out potentially offensive plate designs takes both time and money on the state’s part.

The additional fee is seen as a way to potentially discourage people from applying for offensive designs. Any new designs will also need to be approved by a License Plate Design Review Board.

When questioned by committee members about the costs of the process, McCay said the positive response from people over the state’s black license plates shows many are willing to pay extra to have this design on their vehicles. In the case of the black license plates, the annual registration fee is $25.

Under the proposed bill, UHP troopers would be allowed to use license plate readers to scan a plate when pulling someone over. Once scanned, the plate number would be automatically fed into a state database that checks for any potential criminal offenses connected to the plate’s owner.

This file photo shows a license plate on the wall of the home of Ivins residents Eric and Bambi Sevy. It is an example of a personalized license plate, Ivins, Utah, July 30, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Allowing the plate number to be entered in automatically rather than requiring a trooper to type it into the computer manually is considered an added safety measure for the trooper to keep their eyes on the road and the vehicle being pulled over ahead of them.

The bill also outlaws license plate covers and frames that can be used to obscure plate numbers and decals.

The bill passed out of the Utah Senate House unanimously on Feb. 6, followed by a unanimous vote in the House committee hearing on Feb 13. It now moves to the House floor for consideration. If it passes, the bill will be sent back to the Senate for final approval as some changes were made to the bill since the original Feb. 6 vote.

The legislative session ends Friday.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2024 Utah Legislature by clicking here.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2024, all rights reserved.

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