Thursday, July 26, 2007


This morning was one of those interesting times when I got to do something that doesn’t roll around very often – I went to register our vehicles AND bring my blue lettered and numbered plates back to the DMV. Yes, my 1994-issued plates had been recalled. Recalled! Why? Because the DMV folks made a decision to make the letters and numbers red.

In case you missed it, here is what the DMV put out:


RALEIGH — North Carolina’s vehicle license plates will soon be getting a makeover by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles. In April, DMV will begin replacing existing plates with an updated version. The oldest plates will be replaced first.

“Removing old plates from our roads will increase the safety and security of our drivers and
provide law enforcement agencies with an updated identification tool,” Commissioner of Motor Vehicles George Tatum said.

Tatum said that many of the 8.4 million vehicles operating in North Carolina carry license plates that are well over 20 years old. Their legibility and reflectivity have deteriorated, making identification difficult for law enforcement officers, he said.

DMV expects to replace more than 600,000 of the oldest plates during the first year of the program, with another 500,000 plates to be replaced in 2008. These plates have been identified by issue dates and sequence numbers. DMV will continue replacing older plates each year afterwards based on available funding. The division received about $1.2 million from the legislature in the 2006 session to begin making the change.

Owners with registrations identified for plate replacement will be notified with their renewal
notices. They will be automatically issued a new plate. Owners renewing registrations through the mail or via the Internet will be mailed a new plate and registration sticker. The cost of vehicle registration will remain the same.

The new standard plates for private automobiles will continue the “First in Flight” design, but will carry red letters and numbers rather than the blue letters and numbers now in use. Owners will be encouraged to take their old plates to license plate agencies for recycling, keeping them out of landfills.

Well, just traveling around, it’s my opinion that it was easier to see the old blue letters and numbers than it is to see the red. I asked others if they had any reaction to the new color and all felt as I do, it’s just harder to see.

It’s worth noting that somebody at the DMV studied marketing because if you don’t want just any old letters and numbers, a few dollars more than the basic fee will get you a “Specialized” ($10) or “Personalized” plates ($30). In the specialized category, there are over 120 options, with military, collegiate, civic clubs, special interests, and stock car racing themes. And for the creative types, most of the specialized plates can also be personalized.

The personalized plates can have eight characters and some special characters may count as more or less than one character. Of course, the DMV won’t approve naughty words or other combinations that they deem unacceptable. On their web site, you can “test drive” your creativity to see if it’s available, then they will inform you if it's acceptable.

Well, after all these years knowing by heart the letters and numbers of our two plates , I will try to learn the new ones before they get recalled!

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