YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Drivers in Ohio have been registering their vehicles with the state since 1908.
For decades, you paid a fee and got two plates. One for the back and one for the front. Recently, changes to Ohio law now only require a rear plate. If you choose to put a plate on the front of your vehicle, you must also put one on the back. There are some exceptions for commercial vehicles.
According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, system-assigned plates are premanufactured with consecutive numbers. The numbers are random with some exceptions, and the letters and numbers have no meaning, however, license plate numbers are sequential from a series AAA 0001 through AAA 9999.
If there is a zero in the plate number it must be led by or followed by another number, not a letter.
There is a maximum of seven characters in a license plate except for motorcycles, personalized plates and logo license plates.
Plates for Ohio are made with dark blue lettering. Some city, county and state license plates have red lettering and historical places have black lettering. Model-year license plates are distinctive to the year the license plate was originally issued. For instance, in 1935 it was yellow lettering so you can get that if you want it, for a price.
License plates and stickers for Ohio are made by inmates at the Lebanon Correctional Institution. The plates used to be made of steel. Now they are aluminum. New plates now are mostly digitized characters and are not embossed as in the past.
Personalized plates are special order and must be approved and cost more.
There are many special interest plates that can let everyone on the road know what you are about from your favorite collegiate team to company logos or your love of nature.
There are some plates you have to have proof that you are a member or affiliated, and you can come up with your own organizational plate if you can get 150 people to sign that will buy them and then keep 25 more people a year interested enough to keep it going.
Youngstown State University has its own license plate as well as Kent State, Ohio State and the University of Akron, among other colleges and universities in Ohio.
Some may think that vanity plates could mean the owner is vain, as in the root meaning of the word that means inflated pride in oneself, but vanity can also mean a work in which the production costs are paid by the owner, which is the case with these specialized plates, and they generate a lot of revenue in Ohio. Thousands of applications come in every year at about $50 a pop.
Ohio rejected 759 vanity plate applications in 2022, many for vulgarity, referencing derogatory remarks against the president and phrases that could incite violence. For instance, the plate MURD3R was rejected.
There are certain license plates that no one can have. They are exclusively for government use in any state or political subdivision. Those places are free.
The newest Ohio license plate design is in honor of the Wright Brothers. Over the past 25 years, five new standard license plate designs have been introduced, including the “Bicentennial” plate in 2001, the “Sunburst” plate in 2003, the “Beautiful Ohio” plate in 2009, and the “Ohio Pride” plate in 2013. The newest, “Sunrise in Ohio,” was unveiled in 2021.
Consider yourself lucky if you live in Ohio when it comes to registration fees. Other states such as Colorado, California, Nevada and Alaska have some of the highest fees in the U.S. For instance, to register a new typical crossover SUV in Colorado costs about $750. In Ohio, it’s well below $100.