Have an 'Ohio Gold' license plate? The BMV wants to get rid of it

·2 min read
Ohio wants to remove license plates in the "Ohio Gold" series from circulation.
Ohio wants to remove license plates in the "Ohio Gold" series from circulation.

Some Ohioans in recent weeks received letters from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles stating that their license plates have to hit the curb.

And some of those people, like Columbus resident Samuel Hopkins, are not happy about it.

"There's nothing wrong with them," he said of his plates. "It's just not necessary. They're trying to run something down people's throats."

According to the BMV's letters, license plates in the "Ohio Gold" series need to be removed from circulation for public safety. Issued from 1997 through 2001, the plates generally feature a dark blue serial on the background of a white-gold gradient with the word "OHIO" on top.

These plates, per the BMV, have "well exceeded their useful life as the numbers and letters on most plates have degraded to the point that they are difficult to read." Around 235,741 of them are still in use.

Are 25-year-old license plates 'difficult to read'?

That description is contested by some like Hopkins, who say that the serial numbers and letters still read well on his and his wife's three plates. For him, there is absolutely no reason to get rid of his license plates that are functioning fine.

In response, the bureau said it is simply trying to follow a standard from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators recommending a replacement or rolling cycle of no more than 10 years.

"Since the Ohio Gold license plates were first issued in 1996, they have potentially been affected by 25 years of humidity, rain, snow, and corrosive road salt," a BMV spokesperson said.

Even if letters and numbers are readable, the reflective sheeting required for reading without distortion by law enforcement and plate readers during the day and night is significantly degraded, said the bureau, adding officers have expressed concern about it over the years.

The BMV is asking owners of these old plates to purchase new ones, for current registrations expiring on or after Jan. 1. When the registration needs to be renewed, an individual can purchase new plates.

The BMV won't renew registration for old plates.

It coincides with Gov. Mike DeWine's recent announcement of Ohio's new license plate design, set to become the standard on Dec. 29. That new design has attracted a wide range of opinions and infamously featured a plane flying the wrong way before it was corrected.

The BMV said this is not an attempt to push more people to get the upcoming license plate. Those with the Ohio Gold plate who renew before Dec. 29 will end up with the current Ohio Pride design issued by former Gov. John Kasich.

Hopkins, however, intends on keeping his Ohio Gold plates as long as possible.

"I just disagree with that kind of approach, that attitude, that somebody has to conform to something that is not necessary," he said.

Titus Wu is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Have an 'Ohio Gold' license plate? The BMV wants to get rid of them