Motorcycle specialty plates hit the road

CARSON CITY — Russ Steele put in 25 years with the Army.

Proud of his service to his country, he wondered why he could not put a license plate proclaiming his military background on his motorcycle, just like other veterans do with their cars.

So, a couple of years ago, the Las Vegas resident asked Shirley Breeden, a fellow member of his American Legions Riders, a weekend group of motorcycle enthusiasts, if she could do something.

Breeden called a couple of legislators, but nothing happened during the 2007 legislative session. Then, in 2008, she was elected to the state Senate.

On Thursday, a new state law authored by the Henderson Democrat went into effect.

The law allows motorcycle riders to purchase any of the 39 specialty plate designs that nearly 200,000 drivers already have placed on their cars.

The smaller-size motorcycle plates include those for veterans, Purple Heart recipients, Gold Star families, along with those celebrating Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, wild horses, Lake Tahoe and a variety of other interests.

It won’t be cheap for motorcyclists. They must pay an initial cost, $60.50, for a specialty plate, and then another $30 annual fee in subsequent years. There also is a $5 fee for swapping their existing plate.

The fees are in addition to registration fees paid by all drivers.

“I think people in rider groups will want the plates,” Steele said. “We should recognize our veterans. There are 50 in our group alone. We just ride.”

Steele received Army plate No. 2.

The extra fees for specialty plates go to charitable causes. Since the state started issuing specialty plates in 1997-98, $27.7 million has been raised.

“The motorcycle guys are real excited about this,” said Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, who worked on Breeden’s proposal. “It is a big money-maker for charitable groups.”

More than half of the additional money Steele paid for his Army plate will go for outreach programs to help veterans and their families that are administered by the Nevada Office of Veterans Services. Some also will go to the state veterans home in Boulder City, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Also, a portion of the revenue raised by all specialty plates goes into the state highway fund.

Since there are 61,000 registered motorcycles in Nevada, Segerblom expects several million dollars could be raised through motorcycle plate sales.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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