The search for ways the state can cut costs is likely to renew suggestions that could take license plates off of our front bumpers.  But the Highway Patrol thinks that’s a bad idea.

The Patrol says license plates perform several functions. They help identify a vehicle and its owner. But it’s also a check to make sure no sales taxes or property taxes are outstanding.  It’s also a chance to make sure a safety inspection has been run on vehicles that still need them. 

Some legislators argued last year that the state could save three-million dollars by eliminating the front license plate, arguing the state can no longer afford the costs of making two per vehicle.

But Highway Patrol Captain Tim McDonald tells this year’s lawmakers that the front plate is too valuable as a law enforcement tool to lose because “you’ll meet more vehicles than you follow.”  He says law enforcement and witnesses would lose 50 percent of their chances to identify vehicles if the front plate is eliminated, a situation that can be critical in amber alert situations, stolen vehicles, and security recordings. Plus, he says, the patrol is using a new license plate scanning technology that reads every plate as troopers move down the roads and alerts the trooper is something is fishy. 

He also says eliminating one plate won’t save the state all that much money.

 Listen to McDonald’s testimony 4:41 mp3