Bill to drop Ohio front license plate advances

The Ohio House of Representatives Wednesday will likely vote on House Bill 133, which requires only a rear license plate, after the bill cleared the Ohio House Transportation, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee Tuesday afternoon without debate.

The bill would reduce Ohio’s license plate replacement fee from $7.50 to $6.50, saving vehicle owners about $350,000 a year, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission. It would also save the state about $1.4 million in manufacturing costs, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

If it makes it through the House, the bill would still need approvals from the Ohio Senate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich before it would become law.

HB133 would bring Ohio in line with bordering states Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, none of which require a front license plate.

Bill sponsors State Reps. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, and Stephen Slesnick, D-Canton, said changing the requirement would save drivers and state taxpayers. They also said it would end the practice of manufactures and car owners of having to drill holes in their vehicles to accommodate for front license plates.

Major Ohio police organizations, including the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association and the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio lined up against the bill, as did the Ohio Conference of AAA Clubs.

The bill’s opponents argue eliminating the front plate cuts in half their chance of identifying vehicles with drivers that commit traffic violations and other crimes. They also said stopping drivers without front plates gives them probable cause to pull people over, which often leads to the discovery of more serious crimes.

Johnson, whose district comprises Adams and Scioto counties, which both border Kentucky, said his constituents have pushed for changing the license plate requirement “forever.”

“Laws are enforced just fine in those five contiguous states,” Johnson said.

WHIO-TV Reporter Yuna Lee contributed to this report.

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