License Plate Bill Passes In Oklahoma House

Wednesday, May 18th 2016, 4:43 pm
By: Grant Hermes

A bill that would force drivers to purchase re-issued license plates is on its way to the state Senate after members of the House of Representatives passed it earlier this week. 

House Bill 3208 would make a mandatory change to every default license plate in the state at the cost of $5 per vehicle or $15 per vehicle if drivers wanted to keep their existing plates.

Supporters say a change in license plates is long overdue calling the measure a public safety issue.

According to the Oklahoma Safety Council, new plates would be more reflective and easier to read, potentially aiding with Amber, Silver and, the newly signed into law, Blue alerts.

5/1/2016 Related Story: OK Safety Council Proposes Update To State License Plates

They also said forcing new plates would help cut down on the more than 140,000 uninsured drivers on Oklahoma roads.

In a statement, the council's executive director said he was thrilled to learn the bill passed.

"This will force those uninsured drivers to seek coverage in order to get new plates and lower our uninsured motorist costs," OSC Executive Director Dave Koeneke said.

But the bill didn't pass without a fight.

Democrats called the bill a backdoor tax and said it doesn't bring in that much money.

According to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, a change in plates would net $18.5 million for the state.

“It's a phony baloney bill. We don't need new license plates. This is a sham. This is a way for them to gin up some artificial way to raise money because they're out of money,” said Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City.

The bill would also mean a new look for license plates which could mean possible changes to the well-known spirit archer design that saw legal challenges in the early 2010s.

If the bill does become law, a new design would have to be approved by the state Department of Tourism and Recreation.