Do you like your state’s license plates?

I usually notice when cars around me in traffic have various license plates, usually ones that differ from the norm. Here in Texas it always feels good to see a little bit of home in an Ohio plate—which isn’t as rare as you might think. Standard Texas plates are fairly bland, but they’re supposed to be that way.

Although effective, Texas’ license plates are about as fun as a clown with no makeup. | Texas Department of Motor Vehicles

According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, the black-and-white standard plates “… give you a clean, simple and easy-to-read design that meets the highest public safety standards.”

The plates are similar to ones issued in the 1950s and 1960s, and I get why the state uses them—for safety and maybe even a little retro appeal. And they’re what license plates need to be: uncluttered and easy to read at a glance. Besides that, “Black and white plates look good on any color [of] vehicle,” as the DMV says.

But even as a simple guy who appreciates things made to be functional, I still think these plates are even less exciting than wearing a sock with a hole in the toe.

Ah, my former county of residence. This style of plate was used from 1985-90, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. In case you were wondering, Ohio has 88 counties. Texas has 254. |

Ohio plates from when I was a kid in the 1980s were possibly even more bland, but they always had the numbers and letters embossed, which gave the plates some character—our latest Texas plates have the letters printed on them—plus they included the driver’s county of registration! It was always fun to see what county someone was from, if I knew where it was or had even heard of it before.

Minus the busy background, the current Ohio license plate isn’t bad. I like the colors it uses. | Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles

Ohio’s current plate is OK. There’s a bunch of phrases and whatnot that make up the background of the plate, which no one can see from another car. The colors are good. It just doesn’t have much character.

The state plate that always irks me is North Carolina’s, with its “First in Flight” tagline. Ohio and N.C. have long debated who gets to claim the Wright brothers, as the Wrights lived in Dayton and did a good amount of their work there, but the years of testing that led up to the first flight of an airplane was all done in N.C. because of the ideal conditions there. As far as I’m concerned, the Wrights are ours, and N.C. needs to claim something else, like Michael Jordan, and put that on its quarters and license plates.

What about where you live, dear reader—how lame are your standard license plates?


5 thoughts on “Do you like your state’s license plates?”

  1. Great post! I kind of like our bland black-and-white Texas tags. They were what I got when I first moved to Texas in the 1980s. I was a little irked a few years ago when they went with those tags that had all of the colorful iconography on them (space capsule, cowboy on a horse, etc.). I was glad when they went back to the old tried-and-true black-and-white ones.

    When I was growing up in Mississippi, the tags were likewise bland. I can’t even remember what they looked like, but I remember they had the counties on them like yours did in Ohio. Interesting fact about Mississippi tags … what you paid for them was based on the value of the vehicle they were going on. So my tags were always dirt cheap since my cars were always worthless. But it wasn’t unusual for someone buying a new car to have to pay $500 or more for their tags.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For many years, New York had a horrid orangey-yellow plate with dark blue lettering. Then they went to white plates with blue lettering – much cleaner and didn’t clash with the color on most vehicles. Now, New York has gone back to the awful orangey-yellow plates – they look terrible on most vehicles, so the majority of New Yorkers opt to just keep renewing their white-and-blue plates.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post and information. Ohio plates have gotten better, but they still need work. I like Colorado plates, they look nice and are easy to spot (unless they have changed them ) with the mountains on them. Now I am going to have to watch for other plates.

    Liked by 1 person

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