No longer require front license plates in NJ
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NJ currently requires two license plates on each registered vehicle. Absent this regulation, motorists would no longer be required to drill into their bumpers and would ultimately save the state money on production costs -- even factoring in the $100 fine currently in place for those who do not follow the law.
Proposed content for the bill — admittedly I had trouble locating the law for displaying both plates:
(1) Vehicles registered in NJ are required to display a single plate on the rear of the vehicle in a manner where it is clearly visible and in its manufacturer designated location.
(1)(a) Should the vehicle not have a designated location, the owner must display the plate prominently without obstructing his rearward visibility and the plate must be lit by license plate specific lighting.
(2) Where a vehicle is registered at the MVC, the recipient will receive a license plate designated for the rear but may request a second license plate for the sole purpose of displaying it on the front of the vehicle for an additional cost to be determined by the state legislature.
(2)(a) Personalized plates are to be provided by the state as a single plate designated for the rear of the vehicle, but the registrant may request an additional plate with the cost to be determined by the legislature.
(3) Failure to properly display either plate will result in a mandatory fine of (TBD).
The only law I could locate for displaying plates was the following code:
39:3-33. Markers; requirements concerning; display of fictitious or wrong numbers, etc.; punishment
Here are a few reasons why this would be beneficial:
The cost of producing and distributing 2 license plates to each driver would be saved, according to insurance.com, the cost varies state to state, but the estimates are between $.50-$5.50 per set. As of December 2011, there were a total of 6,628,080 registered vehicles in NJ (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2010/mv1.cfm If we are to assume that costs would be halved, that would be a total savings of at least $1,657,020 and as much as $18,227,220. It’s also worth noting that charging the same amount for a vanity plate would likely be feasible, while still cutting costs in half — this ultimately means expanding state revenue over the current setup.
On the topic of revenue, I understand that this is a source of revenue for the state in so far as violations are concerned, however the benefits may outweigh the stream of revenue. On average, the hourly salary of state police officers is $31.83 (https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/naics4_999200.htm The current fine for not having a front plate is $100 and according to NJ.com, in 2014, of the 87,591 written violations, 72,188 plead guilty. (http://www.nj.com/traffic/index.ssf/2015/12/will_you_get_a_ticket_for_not_having_a_front_license_plate_in_nj.html Whats worth noting is that this included violations that carried the much higher $500 fine for displaying fictitious plates, so the numbers are actually a bit higher than what is relevant here. Using come simple math, we can calculate how much the state makes against how much it costs to issue a violation for not displaying a front license plate.
* For the purpose of this calculation, I am assuming that the average stop is about 15 minutes *
First we calculate the number of stops against the cost for the officer’s time; we calculate this by multiplying the average hourly wage by .25 and multiplying it by the total number of stops. We find that the state spends $7.96 to the officer for the 15 minutes and $697,005.38 for the total stops in a given year.
Second, we calculate the revenue the state draws in from the violators that plead guilty. Here we do so by simply multiplying 100 X 72,188 = $7,218,800
Third, we deduct costs from the revenue to find that $7,218,800 - $697,005.38 = $6,521,794.62
Lastly, we deduct revenue generated from violations from the potential savings from manufacture(I’m assuming we fall somewhere in the middle of cost per plate, so roughly $2.75 per plate): $9,113,610 (savings) - $6,521,794.62 (revenue) = + $2,591,815.38 <— the state would profit by getting rid of front license plates.
If our plates cost more than ~$2 to manufacture, we would save money by not requiring the front plate at all. It’s also worth considering that the courts would be less crowded and public perception of license plate regulations would be minimized.
Simply put, manufacturing plates requires resources and resources are sparse. Reducing our consumption reduces waste and reduces pollution. Additionally, auto manufacturers work very hard to design cars to be as aerodynamic as possible; front license plates add drag which also increases fuel consumption — admittedly this is minimal. If possible, I would be interested in the state exploring a more sustainable method of producing license plates via recycling.
Many drivers agree that front license plates are hideous. Requiring drivers to drill into their brand new or used car is a painful experience and many car owners prefer to not do so, which ultimately results in civil disobedience but without redress.
On the off chance that an officer cannot look at the rear plate, the officer may look towards the VIN on the windshield should it be necessary. This, however, is a highly unlikely scenario since officers often pull cars over from behind and traffic cameras are positioned to view the rear plate. Further, the rear plate is the only lit plate on the car, and when a person purchases a new car, the temporary plate is only a single plate hung in the rear. Why should we have to display a front plate if the only one that is actually used is the rear one?
While only 19 states currently do not require front license plates, NJ could be the 20th and would be viewed favorably among the auto enthusiasts for doing so. (http://www.insurance.com/auto-insurance/auto-insurance-basics/front-license-plates.html Additionally, many citizens who do not care either way may still be able to request a second plate (another potential source of revenue), though it is unlikely they’d do so. Given the affluence in NJ, car collectors are likely to rejoice in the deregulation and would be enthusiastic towards it. Further, it's simple and easy to pass with support across aisles and across the board.
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