Motorcycle license plate regulations

Written by annette lyn o'neil Google
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Motorcycle number plates seem to be a much more casual business than automobile number plates. After all, you see them mounted every which way: on swing arms, saddlebags and haphazardly on the frame. Even so, each state's Department of Transportation has rules regarding the approved mounting of a number plate on a motorcycle. So before you take off your stock plate frame and get too deep into the modification process, it's best to check your state's rules.


The main issue regarding number plate location on a motorcycle is visibility. Almost every state's legal verbiage involves the plate's being visible from behind at a distance (50 feet is a good rule of thumb), unobstructed and clearly lit at night.


Motorcycle number plates, like automobile number plates, must be the metal, state-issued, reflective type.


The light over a motorcycle number plate is called a tag light and must light the plate so it's clearly visible at night; for this reason, trendy coloured lights are frowned upon by law enforcement and may net you a costly fix-it ticket.


Side-mounting a number plate is legal in some states and not legal in others. Check before riding your bike across state lines.

Fun Fact

As with automobile number plates, a variety of speciality plates that generate income for worthy state agencies (for example, ocean cleanup or the firemen's fund) are available for bikes.

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