After almost two decades of driving with the same license plates, legislation requiring a redesign and reissuance of Oklahoma plates overwhelmingly passed the House on Tuesday.
House Bill 3326, by state Rep. Ken Miller, creates a new license plate to be issued to Oklahoma vehicles in 2009 and would be the first new tag design in almost 16 years.
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"The public safety of the people I represent is of utmost importance to me," said Miller, R-Edmond. "When the Department of Public Safety tells me they need this tool, I will respond."
License plates have a shelf life of about five years before the design material starts to deteriorate, said DPS Commissioner Kevin Ward. New plates would allow law enforcement to more easily enforce payment of motor vehicle taxes and also detect and apprehend persons who are using automobiles in criminal activity.
"The inability of individuals, law enforcement or otherwise, to efficiently read license plate information creates an unnecessary and sometimes insurmountable obstacle to enforcing motor vehicle tax laws or to identifying vehicles involved in criminal conduct," Ward said in a letter of support for the bill.
Oklahoma drivers will not have to pay any new charge to receive the updated license plate under the legislation and it will be a seamless process, said Miller.
Each year Oklahomans must get a new registration sticker. If this bill becomes law, in 2009 drivers will pay the same amount for their annual tag on their regular registration date and receive a new plate at that time. Then drivers will continue to receive their annual sticker each subsequent year.
"With absolutely no added expense to compliant taxpayers, the tag reissue will allow us to upgrade and modernize our travelling billboard to better reflect our second century pride and innovation," said Miller.
The legislation will also help crack down on uninsured drivers since the new plates will be issued only to those who can produce proof of insurance. According to the Insurance Research Council, 15% of Oklahomans were without car insurance in 2006. The change will make those not in compliance with insurance laws more visible to law enforcement, said Miller.
"When motorists don't comply with motor vehicle laws, we all pay in the form of higher taxes and insurance rates," Miller said. "With all general issue plates replaced with a new design in the same calendar year, public safety officials will be better able to catch those that are noncompliant. House Bill 3326 provides an opportunity to enhance public safety and public image and it comes with little or no downside."
The bill passed the House with a vote of 95-6 and will now move to the Senate for consideration.
03/10/2008 New Car Tags Could Be On The Horizon