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Florida looks to redesign its license plate

5:01 PM, Oct 9, 2012   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida is making plans to produce a new license plate, and Floridians will get a chance to pick the winner in an online poll in the next few months.

Right now, several prototypes are under consideration with variations of green stripes or accents, but all are flat plates with solid black letters. The new plate would dump county names and replace them with "Sunshine State" or "In God We Trust."

The goal is to make Florida's new license plate more readable for police and cameras. It's estimated Florida loses millions of dollars every year at toll booths and intersections when cameras cannot read the plates of violators.

The leader of Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says in this year alone, red light cameras missed about three million license plates because they were unreadable.

Julie Jones says the current plate's raised lettering makes it harder for police and cameras to read the tag.

"The raised lettering is part of the problem with the readability with cameras. An embossed tag that's flat gives us an option to a lot of different fonts and some different colors and specifications that we can now customize and eliminate the error rate associated with the reading of the tag."

"For an example, just in the period from January this year until August, we had 2.8 million unreadable tags in the red light camera process with multiple cities across the state. These were because tags were marred but also because a lot of cameras have difficulty reading the difference between S's, 8's, V's, Y's."

The cost of the redesigned plate is estimated at $31 million. Jones says there will be no cost to drivers because she's finding efficiencies in the manufacturing and distribution process to help save money on the process.

One cost-saving measure would allow you to order your plate from a state website and have it mailed directly to your home.

Jones will ask Gov. Rick Scott and members of the Florida Cabinet on October 23 for permission to go ahead with the license plate redesign.

Scott says the cost and readability are key factors to consider.

"It's not going to cost the citizens any more money. It's going to make sure that as people go through our toll booths that we can read the license plates better because we're losing the tolls there, which is not fair that you might pay for a toll and somebody else doesn't. So it would be something you could read better. But it's not going to cost the citizens anymore."

If the Cabinet approves the plan, then Floridians will get the chance to vote online for their favorite sample plate at the end of November. Then the issue would go to the Legislature for approval next year.

Jones says the plan is to roll out the new license plates starting in 2014 and continuing through 2015.

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