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Question of the day

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Ted Slowik..

A Mokena man’s push to abolish front license plates in Illinois is creating buzz throughout the state.

Terrence Smolik believes lawmakers could save taxpayers at least $800,000 per year by doing away with unnecessary, redundant second plates. Illinois should join the 20 other states that only require rear plates, he believes. […]

The Mokena resident has been making the case to ban front plates since at least 2019.

“Enforcement of this law disproportionately and unnecessarily targets the underprivileged, youth and minorities while also being hostile to car collectors and people moving to Illinois from states without a front plate law,” Smolik shared with me three years ago.

* The other side

But removing the front plate would make it harder for police officers and other law enforcement officials to do their jobs, said Ed Wojcicki, executive director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

“It would make it much more difficult to identify people who violate the law,” he said.

Opposition also is coming from the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, a spokesperson for the organization said, because the front license plate is a “tool we use in our toolbox. We don’t need any more restrictions.”

The Illinois Tollway Authority also remains opposed to the legislation, said Senior Communications Manager Dan Rozek.

“The loss of the front plate would disrupt the technology used by the Tollway to collect tolls, which often relies on matching the front plate with the rear plate to identify a vehicle,” Rozek said.

* The Question: Keep the front license plate or dump it? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…


  1. - froganon - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:08 pm:

    Voted to keep it. Losing one plate means a 50% smaller chance of seeing a license plate number for auto using miscreants. The savings seems small. Replacing the technology used by the tollway would cost way, way more.

  2. - MisterJayEm - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:09 pm:

    Can Illinois law enforcement explain why they are incapable of dealing with something that doesn’t thwart cops in 20 other states?

    – MrJM

  3. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:10 pm:

    ===Terrence Smolik believes lawmakers could save taxpayers at least $800,000 per year===

    It’d cost way more than that to redesign the Tollway plate reader system. Hard pass.

    With so much crime tied to vehicles these days, now is not the time to make them harder to identify.

  4. - Earnest - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:12 pm:

    Voted “keep.” I’m not confident of that savings estimate. Putting two plates into a press is the same amount of labor as one, so all you’re saving is on materials. And, good occasion to remember that Illinois is one of the few places where license plates are not made by incarcerated persons:

  5. - Captain Obvious - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:15 pm:

    It would make it much more difficult to identify people who break the law. Game. Set. Match.

  6. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:17 pm:

    With all the idiots driving out there who run red lights, too many pedestrians are nearly getting hit in crosswalks. I know of two drivers who were caught because the walkers saw the front plate and turned them in to the police.

  7. - Nick - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:20 pm:

    I’m not unsympathetic to the tollway or law enforcement arguments but surely, among the 20 other states that don’t have forward facing plates, this hasn’t proven a huge hinderance?

  8. - NotSoCivilEngineer - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:21 pm:

    Keep it as it serves many valid purposes. Consider looking at Cailfornia pilot program that lets front plate be a vinyl wrap sticker to reduce costs and eliminate the need for front plate holders, which are what the car buffs get touchy about anyway.

  9. - We've never had one before - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:21 pm:

    You need go no further than seated members of the Illinois General Assembly. They get extra special vanity plates. Well, one is special the other is “meh” . The front plate given to ILGA members has no info on it other than “Illinois House” or Illinois Senate. Want a license plate number? You have to check the rear plate for that.

  10. - Boone's is Back - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:23 pm:

    Yeah, with the increase in expressway shootings I’m totally cool with keeping front plates.

  11. - Enviro - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:29 pm:

    Voted to keep it.
    “It would make it much more difficult to identify people who violate the law”

    If this helps to identify and arrest people who break the law,
    we really need the front and back license plates in Illinois.

  12. - Juvenal - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:31 pm:

    Keep the plate.

    When the guy behind me is road-raging, I like to be able to share the info.

  13. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:38 pm:

    I voted keep it. If someone is trying to run me down I’d like a fighting chance of reading the plate from the front.

  14. - Chicago J - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:39 pm:

    I never get a look at my Uber’s rear plate. I need the front plate to be sure I’m getting in the right car.

  15. - Cornerfield - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:41 pm:

    I said dump it. The whole license plate reading thing gives me the creeps just like facial recognition tech. I understand the use for it for tollway and redlight scofflaws but I kinda feel the I-Pass should be enough for the tollway along with a rear plate reader. They seem to get by as it is with all the out of state cars with no front plate.

  16. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:41 pm:

    Keep it. That’s hardly a lot of money compared to the state budget, and it’s a good investment in public safety anyway.

  17. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:43 pm:

    Keep it. For the reasons listed in post and comments. And more.

  18. - G'Kar - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:45 pm:

    I didn’t vote because I really don’t care one way or another.

  19. - New Day - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:49 pm:

    I voted to lose it and recognize that it would create challenges for red light cameras, speed cameras and toll cameras. Oh well.

  20. - SKI - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:49 pm:

    Dump it. Tollway scanners and plate readers catch rear plates just fine. It’s how they catch trailers and motorcyclists.

    Also of note, Rivian trucks don’t have a spot for front plates from the factory. You have to drill the front bumper to place your plates

  21. - Responsa - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:50 pm:

    Witnesses to accidents, unsafe driving, and notices of amber and silver alerts all benefit from having two plates to observe, so society benefits. Keep.

  22. - DuPage Saint - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:51 pm:

    Keep it. It is no big deal. Way back when you got new plates every year and you had to change them in January it might have made a difference. However they should get stronger paint I have seen a whole lot of illegible plates lately

  23. - Stones - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:51 pm:

    I live in a state that does not issue or require front plates. We get along just fine that way and law enforcement doesn’t seem to have an issue with it either. It’s a.l unnecessary expense for all.

  24. - allknowingmasterofraccoondom - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:52 pm:

    Dump it. There are so many ways to see and catch a license plate. Save the money, and save my beautiful Alfa Romeo’s snout. I have not had one on my car for 4 years and 3 month now. I have only gotten one ticket for it, overnight, while parked in my driveway in the city of Chicago. Go figure.

  25. - what - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:54 pm:

    is there any proof at all that front plates help stop crime like so many commenters are asserting?

    As Stones points out many, many states don’t have them.

    Have a hard time believing it has any impact at all Happy to be proven wrong though.

  26. - Keeping Track - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:56 pm:

    I said keep it. Don’t want to feel like I live in Indiana.

  27. - Majority of Me - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:58 pm:

    I voted to dump it, but I also have no strong opinions on it one way or the other. Limiting plate reader technology could be a benefit for those people concerned with law enforcement overreach. However, it is nice to see my Uber’s license plate as the car drives up without having to be weird and check the back plate to verify it is the correct car.

  28. - Tequila mockingbird - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 3:59 pm:

    Dump it. It’s not essential like 20 other states have determined.
    I hated drilling and putting screws into the front of a sports car I had.
    I installed a winch in the front bumper of my Jeep rubicon and ordered a special license plate holder that hinges out of the way when I need it. It was backprdered. That was 2 years ago and my front plate has been under the driver seat all this time. Nobody seems to care, never been stopped or ticketed.

  29. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:00 pm:

    ===is there any proof at all that front plates help stop crime like so many commenters are asserting?===

    speaking for myself here, but I was not asserting that front plates stop crime. They do, however, make it easier to identify vehicles. As anyone who has read a newspaper recently knows, vehicles are being used in more and more crimes.

    There is not much we can do to stop crime, but that doesn’t mean we have to make it easier to get away with a crime.

  30. - AD - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:02 pm:

    Keep it. $800k is chump change.

  31. - Good Business. - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:02 pm:

    Keep it. License plates are made inexpensively by people with disabilities who work at Macon Resources. The program helps move the employees into the category of taxpayers rather then tax users.

    I also agree with the law enforcement argument.

  32. - Chicago 20 - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:06 pm:

    Dump it.
    Car manufacturers don’t design the vehicle with a front plate.
    Then they make a cheap ugly adapter for the front plate that every car wash wants to eat.

  33. - Mayflower voyager - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:07 pm:

    I have a feeling this dude got a ticket for not having a front plate and now this is his mission.

  34. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:14 pm:

    Keep it.

    “Enforcement of this law disproportionately and unnecessarily targets the underprivileged, youth and minorities”

    This is a problem with police, not license plates.

    This always gets pushed by the classic car guys, because they don’t want to ‘deface’ the physical manifestation of their midlife crisis. They haven’t heard of magnets, it would seem.

  35. - Wensicia - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:17 pm:

    I would rather the front plate was optional, make online renewals for plates with the choice of one or two.

  36. - Senator Clay Davis - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:18 pm:

    Keep it AND reduce the cost for a vanity plate. Back before the Blagojevich admin increased the costs, vanity plates were a lot more common. Made it a lot easier to identify cars for safety purposes, and just made Illinois a more interesting place.

  37. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:22 pm:

    Voted to dump it. Half the country finds it to be not a problem so why is it here? I also hated drilling into the front bumper of my Porsche. On another note, Illinois needs to do much better at making these things last. Driving around Springfield you will see a ton of license plates where the paint is completely chipped off including on one of my cars.

  38. - thisjustinagain - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:23 pm:

    Voted to keep front plates, because they do help catch criminals (who aren’t all one race, Mr. Smolik). His race card play similarly fails; whites made up the largest raw number of stops in Illinois per IDOT’s 2020 summary report, as well as the most stops for moving violations, equipment violations, and commercial vehicle violations. Whites were also ticketed/cited more often per the report.–Part%20I%20Executive%20Summary%202020%20Traffic%20Stops–6-24-21.pdf

  39. - Streator Curmudgeon - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:27 pm:

    Keep it. If law enforcement legitimately needs it, let’s help them do their job.

    Reminds me of a couple years ago when IL banned tinted driver side windows because cops couldn’t see what the driver of a stopped car was doing.

    Did a lobby step it? Because the law was quickly changed and blackout windows are legal again. I feel for troopers who stop a car with those.

  40. - former cubs fan - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:31 pm:

    cops want it and tollway needs it to collect revenue. i voted to keep it.

  41. - In_The_Middle - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 4:47 pm:

    Voted to keep the front plate. Retired L.E.O. The front plate is a necessity in enforcement. And the state would still charge $150 for registration anyways.

  42. - SportShoz - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 5:01 pm:

    I voted Dump It. Michigan and 19 other states do everything just fine with only a rear plate.

    You don’t hear law enforcement in those states pushing to keep it.

    Plus years ago when I was leasing a car, I had several off duty State Troopers comment how much better my car looked without a front plate - and said they wouldn’t pull someone over for just that.

  43. - AlfondoGonz - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 5:21 pm:

    I’m a prosecutor. Visible license plates are my friend.

  44. - MyTwoCents - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 5:22 pm:

    Keep it, it’s not a big deal and $800K is pennies in the grand scheme of things. It’s funny that commentators are all about the 20 states that don’t, when that means that 60% of the states in the US require a front plate, so IL is in the majority.

  45. - Proud Papa Bear - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 5:54 pm:

    $800,000 is nothing. Being able to identify drivers is important.

  46. - FormerParatrooper - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 6:59 pm:

    Where is the data that front plates make a difference in apprehending criminals? Do those without front plates apprehend less?

    If we found a few more redundant things that add up to 800k, how long before we can be rid of them and be speaking of a bucket of money saved?

    I think if we saved 800K in costs, we wouldn’t see it in registration fee reduction, but the SOS would have another 800k to use in other things.

  47. - danray - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 6:59 pm:

    Will never happen until the law enforcement lobby changes course, so it will never happen.

  48. - Lurker - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 7:02 pm:

    My answer is conditional. That is, I am ok with dumping it if we enforce the laws regarding tinted windows because I believe the combination of the two does make things dangerous for law enforcement.

  49. - stateandlake - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 7:53 pm:

    I believe that having front and rear plates makes it easier to identify cars involved in hit and run crashes, property crimes, and other criminal activity. Also, the Tollway’s argument that their technology relies on the front plate suggests that it could cost a lot more than $800K to change their system.

  50. - Flexible One - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 8:34 pm:

    Keep it. I’m not sure where the proponents are getting that savings number. Years ago, since we have two plates, the proponents simply cut the number in half and declared it the savings. Not true, the second plate only adds a small percentage to the cost, clearly not half.
    This issue has emerged many times over the years but didn’t have the necessary support.

  51. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 8:40 pm:

    ===You don’t hear law enforcement in those states pushing to keep it.===

    Actually, you do.


  52. - DuPage - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 10:03 pm:

    Keep the front plate, abolish the plate requirement for smallest trailers. Also make giant truck-cranes buy weight-based truck plates like all other trucks in Illinois.

  53. - Hot Rod - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 10:03 pm:

    Had my front license plate stolen once.
    It ended up as someone else’s rear plate.

  54. - Yooper in Diaspora - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 10:29 pm:

    Nothing new to add - just better to be able to read the license from front or back. What Hot Rod said is troubling, though I suppose this could happen with one plate too.

  55. - Amalia - Thursday, May 19, 22 @ 11:36 pm:

    Need it to read it.

  56. - Arguenda - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 5:27 am:

    I sided with law enforcement, which is strange for me. But this is a non- lethal tool that would only help LEOs become more efficient, which God knows they need since the devastation of our social services network federally and state-wide, makes cops do this social work for which they are inadequately prepared

  57. - Alex - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 8:37 am:

    The reason every car on earth should have a front license plate is that doubles the potential license plate evidence available to law enforcement. Without that plate more people will die in shootings because the shooters cant be caught. Doing away with a front plate is, in effect, a significant defunding of police. Sometimes you have to give up some freedom to have more freedom.

  58. - Groucho - Friday, May 20, 22 @ 11:54 am:

    Voted to keep. 1) Law enforcement, 2) I like to see the plates.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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