Local News

DMV Wonders Where To Draw Line On Specialized License Plates

Posted June 17, 2003

— From your college to your favorite tourist spot, you can get a specialized license plate in North Carolina for just about anything. However, the state is seeing an explosion from special interest groups that want to be represented.

Carol Howard, deputy commissioner of the DMV, said a special department takes in the extra $15 to $25 for plates like the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Western Square Dancers. But now, groups like Surveyors, Choose Life, and the Red Hat Society want in on the plate debate.

"We just wonder how many we're going to have," Howard said.

Currently, there are 94 different special plates in North Carolina and close to 50 more have been introduced this year. Some of the new suggestions are Mothers Against Drunk Driving, breast cancer awareness, even one for Buffalo Soldiers, the African-American soldiers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Up to 30 different NASCAR tags are on the legislative agenda.

"It will also be a first because it will be the first time North Carolina has to pay royalties," Howard said.

The new plate proposals also worry law enforcement.

"That they'll be able to readily view that plate and know that it's a North Carolina plate," Howard said.

Dozens of groups win plate approval, but then fail to get the 300 applications needed to earn a tag. Groups like the Boy Scouts have camped in license plate limbo for years, along with the universities of Alabama and Tennessee, Penn State, and Ohio State, which have nothing to do with North Carolina. The DMV wonders where do you draw the line on license plates.

"We don't oppose the special plates, but when you get 49 in one legislative session, how big is this program going to get?" Howard said.

Some plates help raise money for organizations. Others just raise awareness. As long as lawmakers keep approving them, DMV officials said they will keep distributing them.

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