New rule saves doomed Colorado license plates

There's only one problem: these plates are too big to fail.

DENVER-- Colorado’s Department of Motor Vehicles had a change of heart.

In a bit of an embarrassment to Colorado’s sports scene, three of the big four sports teams were on track to see their special license plates retired: the state was planning to stop issuing new specialty plates for the Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rockies, and Denver Nuggets.

On Friday, the agency will announce that it will not retire those after all. In fact, the DMV overhauled its rules so that none of the nine specialty license plates scheduled to be mothballed in July will stop being issued.

“The DMV has re-evaluated its earlier assessment and, due to flexibility allowed in law, will not be retiring special group plates,” spokesman Kyle Boyd said.

Lawmakers set a target of 3,000 plates in state laws creating the license plates, giving each a set number of years to reach that goal. The Denver Nuggets, for example, have until July 1 to sell another 2,535 more plates.

That was not going to happen.

But the DMV has decided not to retire the plate because the lawmakers who wrote that bill used the words “may stop issuing.”

The word “may” gives the DMV the option to not retire a license plate, while “shall” means they have to stop offering it if a plate isn’t selling well enough.

“Every license plate bill they write, they write it differently,” Boyd said. “The Alive at 25 [plate] was a ‘shall,’ so we had no flexibility with them.”

The DMV retired that plate in July 2016.

Here's the license plates that were on the chopping block:

  • Carbon Fund 
  • Child Loss Awareness 
  • Colorado Avalanche 
  • Craig Hospital 
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Kids First 
  • State Parks
  • Support Education
  • Support the Horse

Not everyone is celebrating the pardon granted to these plates this week.

“It’s amazing when supply and demand doesn’t work,” said Mark Ferrandino, a Democrat and former Colorado House speaker. “It just shows you that there’s not the demand for all these license plates.”

Ferrandino was an outspoken critic of creating new specialty plates, voting against every new license plate bill that came across his desk.

He called the DMV’s latest decision “absurd” and said people would rather buy a bumper sticker for $5 than spend $50 on a specialty plate.

Coloradans have 88 choices when it comes to license plates, although some require you to meet specific requirements like being a lawmaker, veteran or someone who received a specific honor like the Navy Cross or the Medal of Honor.

The state with the most options for your license plate is Maryland. Residents there have more than 700 license plates to choose from.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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