Front Plate Debate Continues Between Lawmakers and Police

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa House is considering a bill that would require only rear license plates on vehicles.

“I just think it’s one of those things in Iowa that don’t we really need any more,” said Rep. Josh Byrnes (R- Osage).

Byrnes, along with other members of the House Transportation Committee, proposed the bill claiming front license plates devalue collector or vintage cars. Experts at Shottenkirk Chevrolet in Waukee agree the front bumper license plate is a turnoff. Most sports cars do not  come with a front license plate bracket and need to be installed by the manufacturer.

Sales manager Paul DeYarmen said not only is the attachment aesthetically unpleasing, but it could also ruin the performance of the car.

“Millions and millions of dollars are spent developing these beautiful cars and then you basically ruin it by sticking a front plate on it," DeYarmen said.

Those against the bill say it could make their jobs more difficult.

“If you take one plate away, it's a 50 percent less opportunity to identify that car,” said West Des Moines Police Sgt. Jason Bryan.

Police say having both sets of plates is not meant to be a cosmetic enhancement, but rather a tool to help in criminal investigations.

“If you have both plates, there's a better chance you’re going to be able to at least get some of the plate or even all of the plate,” Bryan said.

Nationwide, 19 states do not require a front license plate. If passed in Iowa, the change could save the state roughly $500,000 annually.

Both sides agree this bill will struggle to gain momentum unless a compromised is reached.

“Maybe not every vehicle in the state needs to have their front plate removed, but maybe for the folks who are the car enthusiasts, we reach a compromise that way,” Byrnes said.

The bill is eligible for debate on the House floor.

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