Published Date: December 29, 2020
Last Updated on April 18, 2023 by Camper Front
Most people fear that they may be in trouble if they drive a trailer without a license plate and that fear isn’t irrational. This article will help you find the information you need to know if you to answer the question, does my trailer need a license plate?
Well, in most cases, your trailer will need a license plate before you can drive it around. But there’s no general rule here. This is because each state, county, and regions all have different rules and regulations, so what applies in one state might not apply in the other.
But we’re going to do our best to explain to you everything you need to know about your travel trailer and license plate number.
However, you should keep in mind that this article isn’t in any way legal advice, you should always verify the laws and regulations of your particular county and region.
Table of Contents
Does My Trailer Need A License Plate?
The answer to this question is almost totally dependent on the state you live in. But to be on the safe end, you should assume that you need a license plate except when certain conditions are met.
Here are certain conditions for you may not need a license plate:
1. Newly Purchased Trailer
If you just newly purchased your trailer, you don’t have to fear that you may get into trouble when you drive it home without a license plate because you can instead show its bill of sale.
Any verified copy of the bill of sale can be used in place of a license plate in almost every state.
So if you decide to take your newly bought trailer for a ride and it doesn’t have a license plate yet, just ensure to have your bill of sale available on hand. Most owners even decide to place the bill on sale on the spot intended for the license plate, and you can do this too.
2. Type Of Trailer And Its Use
In some states, they give exemptions to certain types of trailers. If the trailer is going to be used for hauling farm items like vegetables, farming implements, tobacco, or even livestock, you may not need a license plate to drive it.
The same rule applies to trailers that are used to tow other vehicles known as tow dollies.
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What Happens When You Tow A Trailer Without A License Plate?
So, in the event where end up getting caught for towing a trailer without a license plate in a region where it is against the law, there are certain penalties you may end up facing.
These penalties are set in place to deter people from trying to take the risk of towing their trailers without a license plate, which happens to be something that’s consistent.
Many people may do this and get away with it but not everyone will be that fortunate and you may end up being penalized which is often the case. In such cases, the worst you can expect is a ticket.
But that depends on the officer penalizing you, some might let you go off with a warning, and some won’t.
On a side note, you should not try to replace a temporary alternative plate on the license plate spot, many people tend to do this, and are a more serious offense that can get you a large fine.
You may get away with it or you may not but the trouble it lands you with are way bigger than the stress of getting a license plate for your trailer in the first place.
It saves you a lot of heartache and stress abiding by local laws and regulations.
Other Necessary Guidelines For Travel Trailers
Aside from license plate issuance, most states also places great emphasis on other factors like lighting and brakes.
Most states demand that every trailer must have working taillights. And some even have their specific brake laws.
Many states set very strict rules when it comes to ensuring the safety of trailers traveling within their jurisdiction. Many states require that your trailer have backup safety chains, brake lights, and turn signals.
These are all accessories that fulfill specific purposes that help to ensure your safety on the road as well as the safety of other road users.
Other towing requirements that vary from state to state include weight which has an impact on the braking and the trailer size. The average legal height of a trailer is about 13 to 14 feet and not more than 8 feet in width.
You also need to ensure that your trailer’s license plate has proper lighting so it can be seen easily, this is also required by most states as well.
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RV Towing Tips
- Always check your lights
- Although some parts of a trailer like the taillights, license plate lights, and brake lights are considered to be just the bare minimum they are very important.
- Ensuring that your brake lights are working properly will help to prevent a lot of rear collisions. Having functional tail lights helps with night visibility for those long travels which you might end up having while going on a trip
- Know your trailer’s size
- You need to know your trailer’s exact height, length, and width, as well as its exact dimensions, this will enable you to avoid potential accidents while on the road.
- A trailers height is one of the most underestimated factors, that’s why it causes lots of accidents
- You also need to be aware of how the trailer naturally follows your vehicle. Although trailers are easy to drive, you have to be extra careful when performing sharp turns or when backing up.
- Backing up is more challenging, and it’s often recommended to practice it first. You should also try to think ahead and limit situations that would need you to back up the trailer at all.
- Practice your braking
- When you tow a trailer, you would need to anticipate your stopping and start stepping on the brakes a couple of meters away from where you would want to stop that is why it is recommended that drivers keep a farther distance between their trailers and vehicles in front of them.
- Your speed also has an impact on your braking which is why most states enforce a towing speed limit of exactly 45 mph.
- If you are towing a really heavy trailer, it will need to be fitted with trailer brakes due to the excess weight.
- If you make use of tailer brakes you have to know that they tend to be far more unpredictable than vehicle brakes, most especially if they aren’t serviced that why you need to ensure there are well maintained.
But at the end of the day trailer brakes are necessary and helpful, but you shouldn’t totally rely on them. If you are towing a heavy load ensure to give yourself more time to stop even more than you think you need.
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Conclusion: Does My Trailer Need A License Plate? Probably.
If you are a newbie to towing life, it’s no surprise that you may wonder whether you need a license plate for your trailer before you can use it.
But unfortunately, there isn’t a direct answer to that question. But, you can always check with your local authorities.