TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida's well-known license plate, featuring two oranges and an orange blossom, could be jettisoned in the next two years.
State officials are drawing up plans for a redesigned plate intended to make it easier to catch scofflaws who go through toll booths as well as people who run red lights. The new plate would be rolled out to motorists in 2014 and 2015.
Julie Jones, executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, said it is difficult right now for cameras to read the old license plates that feature raised lettering. Jones said so far this year that there have been 2.8 million unreadable tags.
The effort to switch to a new flat plate so far appears to have the backing of Gov. Rick Scott.
“It's not fair if you pay for a toll and somebody else doesn't,” Scott said Tuesday.
Florida has roughly 18 million registered vehicles and most of them feature the basic Florida tag that says either Sunshine State or In God We Trust at the bottom. Some of the tags also feature the county that the motorist resides in.
On the drawing board right now there are four different plates with a much simpler design containing black letters. Each of the four designs includes either an orange or orange slice on it, but at the top of the plate instead of in the middle of the tag. The county designation would no longer be included on the plate.
The state plans to put the four designs on the Internet and let members of the public vote on which one they prefer.
Jones said the $31 million it will cost to manufacture the new plates will not be passed on to motorists. She said that the state will recover the cost of the new plates from people who have not updated their tags as required under law.
Tags currently cost $28, but motorists pay the cost of the plate over a 10-year period.
Jones pointed out that Florida's specialty tags — which include popular plates for the University of Florida and Florida State University — will not be replaced with the new flat tags until the existing plates are sold.
The final decision on the new license plates still has a few more hurdles. Scott, members of the Florida Cabinet — which oversees the motor vehicles agency — and the Florida Legislature will have to give final approval to the switch to the new plates.
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