Oklahoma releases new license plate design

Staff Writer

A new plate touted as promoting tourism and helping to crack down on uninsured drivers in Oklahoma was unveiled on Tuesday afternoon, with fair amounts of both praise and scorn from Oklahomans online.

The new plate features a depiction of the state bird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher and promotes the Oklahoma Department of Tourism's website, TravelOK.com. Two visible boxes for registration decals displaying the month and year separately are still part of the plate design. The new plates will be printed on prismatic sheeting to make them more visible at night. Drivers will begin to receive new plates in January 2017.

"The new design will act as a traveling bill board for those looking to experience and explore our beautiful state," Governor Mary Fallin said. "Just as important, the new plates are more clearly visible at night and will aid our law enforcement officers as they work to keep us safe."

The current issued plates are said to be past warranty and are beginning to deteriorate, with dulling reflective sheeting, making them difficult to see at night.

According to a release from the state, the Oklahoma Safety Council and the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police spoke during this year's legislative session on the importance of more visible plates. The plates are used by law enforcement officers to locate suspected felons and respond to Amber and Silver alerts.

"When a state trooper pulls someone over, the first thing that trooper does is run the license plate," Oklahoma Highway patrol Chief Ricky Adams said. "That's how we alert our dispatchers that we are on a stop and get our first clue of a potentially dangerous situation. The ability to quickly see and easily read a tag number in bad weather or low light conditions is of paramount importance to law enforcement."

Insurance Commissioners John Doak stated Oklahoma is a national leader in uninsured drivers, making the roads less safe and, "unfair to the majority of Oklahomans who comply with the law and drive responsibly". Doak hailed the reissue as a reliable way to increase the number of drivers with insurance.

Oklahoma Tax Commissioner Dawn Cash said the state is owed roughly $4 million from Oklahomans who are not in compliance and failed to pay their registration fees last year.

"Not only is that unfair to the Oklahomans who are following the law and registering their vehicles, it also significantly diminishes revenue going to public schools, local governments and other priority needs," Cash said.

The new plates are authorized under House Bill 3208.