Have you ever been driving along the street after dark only to be pulled over by the police for a burned-out license plate light? You are not alone. Many people have received fines for this problem – what is the penalty, though? What happens if your license plate light bulb does not work?

If you are stopped by an officer of the law who requests to see your vehicle’s registration, which includes inspection and insurance information, and they notice that only one of your two front lights is lit up, don’t panic! You won’t automatically get a ticket or face other legal ramifications. It will simply mean that you do not pass the lighting section of your state vehicle safety inspection. For example, some states, like California, require both license plate lights to be operational. Other states, though, need just one.

Essentially having a blown-out license light can lead to possible fines from your local state law enforcement; depending on which state you live in, the fine amount can vary. Police will also offer you the chance to change your lights within a reasonable timeframe and can let you off with just a warning.

Will I get Fined For Having No License Plate Lights?

Picture of a person getting pulled over for no front license plates

Before being ticketed for your license plate light not working, it is essential to know the regulations in your state regarding this issue. If you should receive a citation for this problem, the fine price will vary by location and jurisdiction, so check with your local DMV office before heading out on the road again.

The likeliness of you being fined is very low and depends on the officer that has pulled you over, if you already have other traffic infringements or illegal modifications on your car the officer may ticket you for a wide range of offenses.

If you just have the license plate light blown out, from our experience, you are very unlikely to get a citation and just a warning to fix the light. You may also be targeted in the local law enforcement computer system for a faulty light. Therefore, you might have a higher chance of being pulled over in the future as you have an outstanding warning on your registration.

Why Do We Need License Plate Lights?

Picture of rear license plate lights working on a Subaru SUV

License plate lights make it easier for law enforcement officers to identify vehicles on the road when they are pulled over or driving after dark. They are easily overlooked when you service or replace your vehicle’s taillights but license plate lights are considered part of the major lighting system.
It also provides a way for other road users to identify your vehicle during the day and night time, just as you can easily see which vehicles have their headlights on.

The reason states require license plate lights is that it helps warn other drivers of upcoming vehicles and makes it easier for police officers to tell what direction traffic is coming from. This way, they know which lane to pull over cars when conducting speed traps.

In some areas, simply having one light not working will result in being pulled over but this varies state by state. If you are unsure whether or not your state requires both bulbs to be operational, check with the Department of Motor Vehicles before heading out on the road again.

Will My Insurance Care If I Have No License Plate Lights?

Some insurance companies may send out their claims representatives to inspect your vehicle for any visible problems, if the representative finds that both of your license plate lights are not working, they can lower your insurance rates because you have committed a driving offence.

A claim representative would want to check whether or not your license plate light is out because it could indicate other repairs needed or overall safety concerns on the road.

When you are looking for ways to cut down on running costs it’s crucial to understand what circumstances will affect your premium price. These can come in the form of significant ticket offences like reckless driving and speeding but minor things like having no front license plate light will count against you as well.

If there is something wrong with either lighting system on your vehicle, a claims representative will likely want to inspect the other lights on your car as well. This is just another way to limit their potential costs in an accident and even affect used vehicles being sold to new owners.

In summary, having these lights not working can result in:

  • You being fined for not having license plate lights
  • A one-off warning to fix your lights or;
  • Profound cost implications with your insurance company

It’s vital to maintain your license plate lights regularly to avoid any problems arising in the future.