CRS 42-3-202 is the Colorado statute that requires the owner of a motor vehicle to attach a front and back license plate. The statute also requires owners to display validation tabs on the rear license plate. A failure to do either act is a class B traffic infraction.
42-3-202 states that “the owner shall attach the number plates assigned to a self-propelled vehicle, other than a motorcycle, autocycle, or street rod vehicle, to the vehicle with one in the front and the other in the rear.”
Examples of unlawful acts
- an owner putting a rear license plate on but failing to put a front one on.
- ignoring new plates from the Colorado DMV and refusing to put them on a vehicle.
- not affixing a validating tab or sticker to the rear plate of a car.
Traffic lawyers can contest a no license plate charge with a legal defense. A few common defenses include the accused showing that he/she:
- was not the owner of the vehicle,
- was driving a vehicle exempt from the law, and/or
- owned a military vehicle.
The offense is punishable by a fine of up to one hundred dollars. No points get assessed on the offender’s driver’s license.
Our Colorado personal injury lawyers will highlight the following in this article:
- 1. What is an offense under CRS 42-3-202?
- 2. Are there defenses?
- 3. What are the penalties for not having plates?
- 4. Can violating this statute result in other charges?
- 5. Does having no plates affect a personal injury lawsuit?
- 6. Are there laws related to this statute?
1. What is an offense under CRS 42-3-202?
According to Colorado Revised Statutes 42-3-202, the owner of a motor vehicle must attach both a front and rear license plate to his/her auto.1
The law also states that owners must attach validation tabs or stickers to the rear license plate at the bottom of the plate.2
An owner of a vehicle receives two license plates and two validation tabs at the time of vehicle registration. All such items are issued by the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles of the Colorado Department of Revenue.
2. Are there defenses?
Traffic lawyers can answer the following questions regarding defenses under this statute.
- is it a defense if a person was not the owner of the vehicle?
- are certain vehicles exempt from this license plate law?
- what about military vehicles?
2.1 Not the owner of the subject car
Recall that this statute only applies to the owners of vehicles. They are the ones that bear the responsibility of attaching license plates. Therefore, an accused could try to escape liability by saying that he/she was not the car’s owner.
2.2 An exempt car
Certain vehicles are exempt from the front and rear license plate requirements under this statute. Examples include:
- autocycles, and
- street rods.
Therefore, an accused can always show that he/she was driving one of these vehicles.
2.3 Military vehicle
Similarly, owners of a military vehicle are exempt from this law, provided that they physically carry a plate inside the car. A defense, then, is for a person to show that he owned a military vehicle.
3. What are the penalties for not having plates
An owner of a vehicle that fails to attach front and back plates is guilty of a class B traffic infraction.
The offense is punishable by a $100 fine. The DMV does not place any points on the offender’s driver’s license.
4. Can violating this statute result in other charges?
This is because once police stop a person for a traffic offense, they can charge that person for any crime or charge for which they have probable cause to believe the driver committed.
5. Does having no plates affect a personal injury lawsuit?
Violating these laws can lead to a court finding that a driver is negligent per se in a personal injury case.
This, though, does not necessarily mean that the driver would be liable for any accident or injuries alleged in the suit. A plaintiff would still have to prove that the driver was in fact negligent.
6. Are there laws related to this statute?
The following are laws related to this statute:
- operating an excessively wide vehicle – CRS 42-4-502,
- operating an overweight vehicle – CRS 42-4-508, and
- jaywalking – CRS 42-4-801.
6.1 Operating an excessively wide vehicle – CRS 42-4-502
CRS 42-4-502 is the Colorado statute that makes it a traffic offense for a driver of a motor vehicle to operate an excessively wide vehicle, or one that is wider than eight feet six inches. Note that some exceptions to this law do apply.
6.2 Operating an overweight vehicle – CRS 42-4-508
CRS 42-4-508 is the Colorado law that sets forth the legal weight limits for certain vehicles and combinations of vehicles. Driving a vehicle above a specific weight limit is a misdemeanor traffic offense.
6.3 Jaywalking – CRS 42-4-801
CRS 42-4-801 is the Colorado regulation that makes it an offense for a pedestrian to disobey any official traffic control device that is specifically applicable to the pedestrian. This includes a device informing whether to cross a street or not.
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a Colorado traffic attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.
- CRS 42-3-202(1)(a).
- CRS 42-3-202(1)(b).