Some states require front plates, while others only require a rear license plate. Hawaii falls into the first category, and the government has created some specific rules for how the front plate should be displayed. Those specifics can be found under Section 249-7(b) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.
They Say "Front Plate," You Say "How High?
Since more than 30 states require that cars display license plates in both the front and the back, one would think that car manufacturers would put holes in the front bumper so that plates can be easily attached. Unfortunately, this is not the case and many cars require the owner to modify the bumper to affix a license plate. Just be careful where you drill those holes because the statute is very explicit in stating that a plate must be at least one foot off the ground.
Get a Car Wash...Or At Least a Sponge
If you have a burly car designed for off-roading, chances are that your car spends a lot of time caked in mud. But if that muck is covering up your license plate, you could be at risk of receiving a citation. According to the statute, both the front and the rear plates must be kept reasonably clean. If the numbers on your plates are not visible, grab a sponge and a bucket and get to work.
Leniency for New Residents
According to an article by June Watanabe in the "Star Bulletin," a vehicle with one rear out-of-state license plate can be used in Hawaii for one year without being cited. But after a year has passed, the car can be pulled over and the driver can receive the standard $50 citation for only having one plate.
There are a few exceptions to the rule requiring front and back plates. For trailers, semitrailers, and motorcycles, one plate on the back will suffice. However, if there are no holes in the back, the same rule applies in terms of plate height being more than one foot from the ground.