Does Florida Need New License Plates?

If Rick Scott gets his way, you soon could be attaching a new license plate to the back of your car. The current embossed plates with the iconic orange and either your county or “Sunshine State” printed below could be replaced. The new plates will be flat, have a new font, and will be emblazoned with either “Sunshine State” or the state motto “In God We Trust.” 

Scott and his advisers say that every year, the state misses out on $7 million in revenue because toll booth and red light cameras are sometimes unable to read the current license plates. Scott says that the increased dependency on automated machines and cameras make the plates, which will cost $31 million to implement, worthwhile. 

However, people in tax assessors offices throughout the state say that they doubt that the change can be implemented easily or cost-effectively. They feel that the changes could cost more money than they would save. Plus, since the new plates will be implemented over a two year period, it would result in a hassle for drivers who have recently gotten new plates, but will have to replace their current ones again. Also, the new design would mean that tens of thousands of the embossed license plates, including 26,000 “Pinellas” plates, will not be sold and will have to be destroyed. 

There is also concern about the manufacture of the new plates, which is currently overseen by a local St. Petersburg company, being handed entirely to a private company. At this time, Florida license plates are made in the state’s prisons. The company that oversees production says that they do not have equipment necessary for the new plates.

The new plates raise other questions as well. Many believe that the flat plates will be easier to counterfeit. While Scott insists that the new design can free up funding for education, the number of factors involved in the switch means too many complications that may wind up costing us more while accomplishing little in the end.