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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tag! Florida plans major redesign of license plates




It may be time to wave goodbye to one of Florida's most familiar sights: the iconic green-and-white Florida license plate.

The state is moving forward with a major license plate redesign, one that state officials say will make it easier for them to catch motorists who try to evade paying tolls.

For the past decade, the Florida tag has featured six embossed green letters and numbers on a white background, with a lush orange blossom in the middle and the county name at the bottom. But growing numbers of motorists prefer the words "Sunshine State" at the bottom or the state's motto, "In God We Trust."

The proposed new design will feature seven characters -- three numbers and four letters -- in black on a white background, with "Sunshine State" at the bottom. Three of four proposed designs feature the image of an orange in place of the "O" in the word Florida. 

For months, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has been studying the best ways to change the tag -- to save money, reduce unwanted inventory of unneeded plates and reduce the amount of scofflaws at toll booths and red-light intersections. A study by the motor vehicle agency said the current tag is hard to read and that certain characters are indistinguishable from others, such as a "B" from an "8" and a "Q" from an "O."

Jones says the state will seek competitive bids on the new tags at a cost of about $31.4 million over two years. This could mean intense new competition for PRIDE, the prison-industries company that oversees the manufacture of license plates in Florida prisons.

Highway Safety executive director Julie Jones will ask Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet to formally approve the redesign in concept at the Oct. 23 Cabinet meeting. She noted that the tag redesign does not require the approval of the state Legislature.

Within the next few months, Florida motorists will help select the new tag design in an online poll. Jones says the new tag will not cost motorists more money, and the state will see a savings through higher numbers of drivers switching to the new tag sooner so as not to appear conspicuous to police. 


[Last modified: Monday, October 8, 2012 7:32pm]


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