Why does Minnesota need new license numbers every seven years?

Why does Minnesota need new license numbers every seven years?


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When Michelle Lasswell re-registered her car recently, she was handed a new set of registration numbers to put in her car.

Closing them became a “big experiment,” Lasswell, a Northfield resident, said. He struggled to clear his license plate numbers and broke one rusty bolt that held them in place.

“The license numbers themselves were the same,” Lasswell said. “It made me wonder why I had to change my license numbers instead of setting new tabs.”

Others like Misty Compaan were amazed at the same thing. He received Minnesota plates for the first time in 2014 and last year the government gave him new plates for all family cars.

“I just came to memorize the elders,” he joked. “It sparked a heated debate in the household.”

Lasswell and Compaan were among several readers who asked Curious Minnesota – the community-run Star Tribune reporting project – why Minnesota requires drivers to obtain new license numbers every seven years.

License numbers help law enforcement to quickly identify vehicles, and indicate that the vehicle is registered. State law requires that the plates be read from a distance of at least 110 feet and visible from a distance of 1,500 feet.

In Minnesota, aluminum license plates are covered with a thin, high-quality sheet made of 3M of Maplewood, which helps to reflect and make them more visible in low light conditions. If the lid freezes, the plates may become lighter and harder to read. The film has a five-year warranty, said Tim Post, a 3M spokesman.

“After five years the reflection properties begin to decline due to exposure to substances and salts on the road,” he wrote in an email. “3M studies show that reflection can drop by 50 percent between five and 10 years on the road.”

The state gives each plate a seven-year life expectancy and replaces it accordingly, said Pong Xiong, director of the Drivers and Vehicle Services (DVS) unit of the Minnesota Public Safety Department, which oversees registration requirements.

‘Issue of the year’

Things were different, however.

Minnesota once had life plates, meaning they stayed with the car forever unless they were damaged or unreadable. That changed in the mid-1980’s, when law enforcement agencies and 3M pushed for a new law requiring all plates to be replaced and then replaced every few years, according to newspaper accounts since then.

The law sparked controversy and drew a legal challenge which left it in a state of unconsciousness for several years. The state’s public safety commissioner, Paul Tschida, said he was surprised by the public response. according to the 1986 Star Tribune article. “It’s been a matter of the year,” Tschida said.

Minnesota is one of several states with seven-year replacement rules, including Indiana and North Carolina – which began training in 2021. In Montana, dishes are changed every five years. Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois and Florida are on a 10-year cycle.

Some special license plates – which are different from privatized tins – are not included in Minnesota’s seven-year replacement events calendar. That includes special plates owned by veterans of the Vietnam War, Korea and Iraq, as well as active and retired members of the National Guard. Plates of “Pride to be a Veteran” are not allowed, such as special plates of the US Army and VFW members and recipients of certain military honors.

In the case of a collector’s car – defined as a car at least 20 years old – the plate is valid without updating as long as the car is located in Minnesota.

Minnesota car owners pay $ 15.50 on registration costs when new plates are needed. The fee costs $ 6.39 for MinnCor, a state-owned prison prisons program, to manufacture and distribute dishes. Government plates are being manufactured by inmates at the Rush City Correctional Center.

Plates are replaced free of charge if they start to deteriorate or deteriorate within seven years, unless they have been accidentally damaged or neglected, said Becky Mechtel, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Public Security.

Drivers can also request new plates at any time instead of buying tabs, Mechtel said. Last year more than 38,000 car owners changed their plates before their term expired, often changing special plates such as those advertising government parks or schools.

More characters?

Minnesota plates are designed in three-letter and three-letter sequences. From AAA 001 to ZZZ 999 and 001 AAA to 999 ZZZ, DVS has approximately 21.9 million possible combinations. Minnesota has more than 4.95 million registered vehicles, and so far the chain will not have to be repeated for approximately 20 years.

“We are not exhausted,” Xiong said. But with more cars coming into the state and the population growing, “it’s hard to predict when we might miss out on numbers.”

He said the government is looking into the possibility of adding one or two characters to future dishes.

“We have a choice,” Xiong said. “We make sure we have enough sequence.”

With their new plates in hand, Lasswell and Compaan asked what to do with their expired aluminum pieces.

“One can only have a lot of license numbers hanging in the basement or garage,” Lasswell said.

Do not throw them in your recycling bin along the road, Mechtel said. Damaged, damaged and obsolete plates can be unloaded at MinnCor in Roseville for reuse. Drivers can also drop them off at a recycling plant or any car dealership that handles license number transactions, Mechtel said.

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