Tuesday, May 29, 2007

License Plate Triviality

I tend to notice trivial things. For example, below are two examples of Texas license plates currently in use. The top one is a newer version than the one below it, and has a few changes from the older style below. First notice the shape of Texas in the middle of the plate. On the older edition, the state is colored red. On the new one a piece of the Texas flag is superimposed on the map. Then notice the space shuttle in the upper left corner. On the new version, the shuttle sports a United States flag, and has seven distinct stars above it that are missing from the previous version. These represent the lost astronauts of the shuttle Challenger.

Also over the years, the format of the license number has been revised to insure enough unique numbers were available. I can remember formats that included two alphabetic characters and four numbers, three alphas and three numbers, three numbers and three alphas, and an alpha with two numbers followed by three alphas.

That last format is on the second plate below. But on the new plates, Texas has gone back to the three number/three alpha format.

The "new" Texas plate

Previous edition Texas plate

I remember a legislative and public relations brouhaha a few years back when I still lived in Texas. It involved a proposed and approved design for a new license plate. It was to be powder blue and carry the official state motto, "The Friendship State". Well what an uproar that caused! Powder blue and friendship? Too wussified for a state known for cowboys and manliness! The plan was quickly revised, and a plate that had just the state name and flag was adopted.

There is one more thing. The person who owns the second plate is at risk of being arrested. There is a new law in Texas that no attachment (such as a frame) may obscure the state name, motto, or other design elements on the tag. This frame from a dealership covers up part of the bottom design, including the phrase "The Lone Star State". In effect, this gives police a reason to stop and harrass a motorist who has committed no other infraction, even if the plates digits are clearly visible.

Here are two links about this insanity foisted upon Texans by Governor Rick Perry and the state legislature.

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