A measure to discontinue required front license plates on cars not built to accept them edged past a divided House committee Monday.
The 10-7 vote in the Transportation committee came after current and former police officers and others testified that the bill was a bad idea.
“I can’t tell you how many stolen cars I recovered because they only had one plate on them,” said Rep. Pat McDonald, R-Boise, a former Idaho state trooper. “We need to keep those front license plates on these vehicles.”
The bill from sponsor Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, would exempt cars that are not built to accommodate a front plate without an additional mounting bracket. Nineteen states, mostly in the south, do not require front plates.
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Law enforcement officers told the committee that requiring plates front and back is safer for police officers and helps in identifying vehicles. Amber alerts, for example, include license plate numbers.
Creating an exemption for certain vehicles makes the law almost unenforceable for others, they said.
But Nate said if “public safety is the compelling reason for the front plate, then enforcement should be a lot higher than it is right now.”
Nate’s bill now moves to the House floor.
The same bill died in a Senate committee last year.