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Sesquicentennial license plates to be replaced over the next year

August 26, 2013

Time has taken its toll on the popular plate; many are too faded to read.

The special license plate developed for Wisconsin's Sesquicentennial will soon become history as it is replaced over the coming year. Issued between 1996 and 1998, the plate has had a long, successful run, but the aging plates are creating concerns for safety and law enforcement.

"The oldest Sesquicentennial plates have been on the road for more than 17 years now, much longer than national standards recommend," notes Mitchell Warren, director of the Bureau of Vehicle Services in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). "Many of the plates are so faded and their reflectivity is so deteriorated, that they can't be read easily, if at all. It's really a safety and law enforcement issue."

Steven Riffel, Sheboygan Falls Chief of Police and President of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association agrees. "Law enforcement officers around the state have been struggling with reading these faded plates for some time now. We appreciate the fact that they're being replaced." Stephen Fitzgerald, Superintendent of WisDOT's Division of State Patrol concurs. "Our officers need to be able to read license plates; it's pretty basic. We're glad DMV is addressing this issue. It will be a big help to our officers."

In addition to replacing the Sesquicentennial plates, DMV will also replace other standard auto plates that have red letters as they too are showing their age. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators recommends license plates with white backgrounds and black letters or numbers. This provides the most contrast and is considered optimal.

Holders of plates being replaced will receive new plates over the next 14 months, starting in August.

"Plate holders will receive a notice from DMV when it is time to renew," notes Warren. "The notice will provide details, so holders are asked to keep their plates on their vehicles until they hear from us. There is no need to do anything right now."

In total, about 160,000 Sesquicentennial and 135,000 red-letter standard auto plates will be reissued. Over the course of the year, DMV expects to reissue on average about 25,000 sets of plates per month. Reissuance of these plates will be complete when the entire renewal cycle has passed in September of 2014. 

Find out more about the reissuance of plates at the official Wisconsin DMV web site in the Announcements section, along with images of faded red-letter and Sesquicentennial license plates.



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