Is It Illegal to Drive Without a Bumper? Front or Rear? Answers by State

Is it illegal to drive without a bumper? Most states require your car to have bumpers (often front and rear), but some states have no such laws. We have the state-by-state breakdown of bumper laws below.

Is It Illegal to Drive Without a Bumper?

Is it illegal to drive without a front bumper? Is it illegal to drive without a rear bumper? Bumpers are an important safety feature of your car. They are designed to absorb impact and protect you.

Not every state has an explicit law making driving without a bumper illegal. We reviewed state statutes, administrative codes, and car inspection requirements in each state and found three categories:

  • States that require all cars to have bumpers
  • States where you must keep or replace bumpers if they were originally on the car
  • States with no specific bumper requirements

Suggested Article: Average Cost of Repairing or Replacing a Bumper

Find your state in one of the categories below to learn more. If you still aren’t sure whether or not your car is street-legal, you may want to contact a local attorney or your state department of motor vehicles.

Note that many states forbid driving a car in an “unsafe condition” or with broken pieces protruding. If your bumper is missing, damaged, or unsafely attached, it’s possible the police in your area could consider your car unsafe. Police can give you a ticket in these instances, even if the state’s legal code does not explicitly mention missing or damaged bumpers. The fact that your state has no specific requirements for bumpers would not guarantee your success if fighting that ticket in court.

States also require you to display license plates on the front and/or back of your car. Without a bumper, you will still need to attach the plates somehow.

States That Require All Cars to Have Bumpers

Bumpers, often front and rear, or an equivalent that meets safety standards are required on passenger cars in the following states. Some states make exceptions for particular types of vehicles, such as trucks over a certain weight. If you drive something other than a standard passenger vehicle or SUV, check the link for your state to see if you’re covered:

  1. California
  2. Florida
  3. Hawaii
  4. Idaho
  5. Illinois
  6. Louisiana
  7. Maryland
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Michigan
  10. Minnesota
  11. Missouri
  12. Montana
  13. New Hampshire
  14. New York
  15. North Dakota
  16. Pennsylvania
  17. South Carolina
  18. Tennessee
  19. Vermont
  20. Washington
  21. Wisconsin

States Where You Must Keep or Replace Bumpers

If your vehicle was originally designed without bumpers, these states will allow you to drive it. But any car that had bumpers (front and/or rear) when it left the factory must keep them or replace them with an equivalent that meets safety standards. Check the links below for specific provisions in your state.

  1. Alaska
  2. Indiana
  3. Maine
  4. Ohio
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Utah
  7. West Virginia

States With No Specific Bumper Requirements

We didn’t find any requirements for bumpers, neither front nor rear, in the following states:

  1. Alabama
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. Colorado
  5. Connecticut
  6. Delaware
  7. Georgia
  8. Iowa
  9. Kansas
  10. Kentucky
  11. Mississippi
  12. Nebraska
  13. Nevada
  14. New Jersey
  15. New Mexico
  16. North Carolina
  17. Oklahoma
  18. Oregon
  19. South Dakota
  20. Texas
  21. Virginia
  22. Wyoming

In Summary

Is it legal to drive without a bumper? Twenty-one states require bumpers for your car to be street-legal. Seven states require that you keep your car’s original bumpers intact or replace them with an equivalent that meets safety standards. In the remaining 22 states, the law doesn’t specifically say that bumpers are required. Remember, the law can be complex and, in many states, police have the authority to write you a ticket for driving an “unsafe” vehicle.

For more on cars and car parts, see our article: Parting Out Cars: Parting Out a Car for Profit, Sell on eBay & More.

And you may also be wondering if it’s illegal to drive without a hood or without airbags.

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