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Random facts about Colorado license plates

The Next with Kyle Clark team is a bit obsessed with Colorado license plates. The white mountains and signature green border - it's a classic, but there's more to it than meets the eye.
Credit: State of Colorado

The Next with Kyle Clark team is a bit obsessed with Colorado license plates. The white mountains and signature green border - it's a classic, but there's more to it than meets the eye.

Here are some facts about license plates in Colorado that could (or could not) benefit your daily life. 

We've found many of these answers because you've asked us the questions - so keep asking, and we'll keep answering and adding to the list. Email next@9news.com.

Colorado has some beautiful mountain ranges, but none of them were the inspiration for the state license plate.

Rumor has it that the mountain seen on Coors beer cans is Wilson Peak near Telluride. But the Department of Motor Vehicles confirms the mountain range on Colorado license plates is just a generic mountain range. The same is true for the peaks on the state's designer license plates.

The same mountain art has been used on our plates since 1960, and the DMV has no plans to use a real mountain range anytime soon.

There are words that aren’t allowed on a Colorado license plate.

Bad or inappropriate words aren’t allowed to be on license plates, and we all know that. But did you know you can’t even have the word “pig” on a personalized plate?

There is a 19-page document listing all of the offensive words that aren’t allowed on license plates. We have to admit, some of them are pretty clever.

Others include "fruit," "fork*it" and "gotbeer."

And while FAQ is banned on personalized plates, it's allowed if it's in a combination the computer generates.

RELATED: These are all the words Colorado won't allow on a personalized license plate

Some of the specialty plate options are way more popular than others.

Colorado offers dozens of specialty plate options including one for breast cancer, firefighters and Italian American heritage. When we researched them in 2017, we found the Columbine plate, made in honor of the victims and survivors of the 1999 shooting, is the most popular with 96,000 purchases (at the time of our story). It was followed by the Pioneer and breast cancer plates (36,000 buys each). The Pioneer plate is yellow with a wagon and is meant for vehicles that don't exceed 16,000 pounds.

RELATED: We know which face extinction, but which license plates are the most popular in Colorado?

Colorado's currently considering a new specialty plate - one honoring women who served in the armed forces

You once had to offer proof you deserved one of those pioneer plates.

Credit: Colorado Dept. of Revenue

Drivers who wanted a plate with the pioneer wagon used to have to show they descended from Colorado's first settlers. The Colorado Department of Revenue stopped asking for the proof in the 2000s, when they realized they weren't legally allowed to ask. Some other plates do have restrictions because their sponsors worked it into the law.

Read more from 5280 and the Associated Press.

Colorado and New Mexico raced to adopt a chile plate.

Colorado and New Mexico both wanted to be the first state to celebrate chiles with a license plate. Spoiler alert: New Mexico won the race, and even won "America's Best License Plate" Award in 2017.

Former Governor Hickenlooper signed a bill in April 2017 to create the Pueblo Chile plate. 

The letter Q can be seen on lots of Colorado license plates.

It’s something you don’t notice until someone points it out: there are a lot of Qs on Colorado license plates. We researched this back in 2016 and found out that, for a while, Colorado didn't issue license plates with Qs because they were hard to distinguish with the font. A few years back, the state began issuing plates with Qs again, and people noticed.

Bet you'll see them everywhere now, too.

RELATED: Next Question: What's the deal with all the Qs on Colorado plates?

There is a way to correctly put the stickers on your license plates.

Someone asked us point blank. "Is there a punishment for stupidity? I guess I can be more specific. Are there any consequences for people who place their registration stickers incorrectly? Does this drive anyone else crazy?" 

There should be two stickers for your plate. The white one goes on the lower left corner and the colored one should be on the lower right corner. Simple as that.

Technically, incorrectly placed stickers can earn you a $15 citation, but it's unlikely that you'd be pulled over for it.

RELATED: Next Question: Is there a punishment for wrongly placed registration stickers on a license plate?

The format of Colorado's license plates has changed.

Colorado license plates now have four letters and two numbers - a change from the three-letter, three-number combination. We noticed it in March 2019, but the DMV says they changed it a year ago because they ran out of different combinations with the old system.

Nearly 2 million plates use the new combo. The DMV estimates it will be 15 to 18 years before they have to change it again.

There is a building with a wall full of Colorado license plates in Colorado.

License plates on cars? How about a whole wall full of license plates?

Credit: 9NEWS

Elizabeth Schlup is the mastermind behind this project. She is the owner of Penrose Auto Salvage where the Colorado license plate wall exists.

RELATED: This auto salvage yard might have done the most Colorado thing ever with all the license plates it gets

According to Schlup, the license plates reflects off of car lights at night…now that would be cool to see.

Is the little dash on the Colorado plate supposed to represent the shape of our state?

No, but apparently some of you have thought so, which is why we asked to make sure. The Department of Revenue checked with Colorado Correctional Industries, the prison-based company that makes the plates. They say they actually get this question often, but no. Sometimes a dash is just a dash. 

Rules for obscured plates?

One viewer had a fascination with blocked plates - as in blocked by a bike rack or trailer, for example.

Colorado State Patrol says this is a tricky one. If you move a plate to a visible area, like a back windshield, then it might be illegal if the window is too tinted - a $22 ticket. CSP says the plate can be mounted on the rack if it's securely fastened and not blocked. They tell us it has to be within 18 inches of the bumper and clearly visible. But even troopers acknowledged that could make the plate prone to falling off or getting stolen. So, use your best judgment everyone.

Why does Colorado require a front license plate?

Not all states do, but the reason for using it may be obvious: it's easier for law enforcement to catch lawbreaking people in cars with front license plates. And that's not just because of cameras. Plates in the front are mounted on bumpers, which usually break loose at the scene of a crash or leave an imprint after a hit and run. 

Research done by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute also showed how the front license plate specifically impacted Colorado. E-470 Public Highway Authority tracks the number of tolls from license plates. The front plates alone accounted for $23.1 million in revenue in a year. According to E-470 staff, 34% of revenue might have been lost without the front plate. 

Plates can impact your vehicle registration fees.

When DMV computers were upgraded earlier this year, they allowed for a line-by-line description of what you pay to register your vehicle. Before the upgrade, you saw a lump sum.

We put together an entire story about each little charge in your fee, but specialty fees also come with a special price tag. For instance, the "Adopt a Shelter Pet" license plate requires a fee for the plate and another to fund the "Pet Overpopulation Fund." The pink breast cancer plate requires a fee for the plate itself and another to fund breast and cervical cancer prevention treatment. 

RELATED: Why do I pay so many vehicle registration fees in Colorado?

And this story's just for fun: Whoever forged this temp tag forgot April only has 30 days.

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