Little-known facts about the Nevada DMV

We’ve received a flurry of questions for the folks at the Department of Motor Vehicles the past couple months. Since in the past week they have twice delayed their legislative hearing regarding the controversial Real ID, we figured they might have some extra time on their hands. So we threw the following noncontroversial questions their way.

Rae is observant … and inquisitive: I’m curious about the new license plate renewal stickers (green for 2011). Some stickers for 2011 show the month/year as 03-11, while others show just the month 03 in larger numbers with 2011 down the side. I have never noticed two different types of stickers before, why the difference?

Good catch. Last year, law enforcement officials asked the Department of Motor Vehicles to increase the size of the month to make it easier to see. They aren’t worried about the year because the tags are different colors.

Speaking of tagging, Mark’s are peeling off: I have about 15 registration tags on my license plate and it looks like it would be easy to steal my newest one. What is the best way to take your older tags off your plates?

Try a substance like Goo Gone, which takes off ultra-sticky things, like, say for example, the orange stickers that parking enforcement places on your window.

The DMV doesn’t believe it’s necessary because those tags were designed to come off in tiny pieces so they would be difficult to steal.

Others have worried about it; one reader said he uses a razor blade to cut his sticker so that it would be tough to peel off.

That’s fine too, says Tom Jacobs, spokesman for the DMV.

Tony has a couple questions regarding license plates: Several members of my extended family have an informal and ongoing contest to see who can spot the most recently issued license plate; currently we’re up to “WLK.” There are, however, several hundred “ZAA” plates which are totally out of sequence. Why would the DMV issue these outside of the normal progression?

All of the plates are manufactured in sequential order and shipped out in mass quantities to the state’s different offices. This is where your game gets messed up. How the plates end up on the street depends on how busy the offices are, Jacobs said.

For example, the Henderson office might tear through their plates and issue plates starting with “999,” while the Mesquite office is much slower and could still be on the plates starting with “123.” Slower offices have the older plates.

And the second: When exactly did we switch from raised letters to the new flat design? I’ve seen a “TUT” that has raised letters and plates after “TUV” are all flat, but we are still looking for the mysterious “TUU” to see which design it utilizes.

The flat plates were introduced in October 2004; the “United We Stand” plate was the first one manufactured with the new lettering. The flat lettering rather than embossed are less expensive because they are produced digitally and on slightly thinner aluminum. They are also environmentally friendly because the DMV had to manufacture batches of personalized plates, such as UNLV, the rodeo or Lake Tahoe. Now they are done to order, which cuts down on waste.

As far as the “TUU,” there could very well be both raised and flat plates with those letters.

Brian gets the final question: I have seen quite a few plates that have lost the light blue color. Some are starting to look like the old plates (I believe it was the big horn, but I’m not sure). Now with these new design plates, when they fade like they are, who is going to have to foot the charges on replacing them? It’s bad enough that we Nevadans get hosed on the cost of registering the car, but I don’t see how it is our fault that they are fading.

Actually, if your plates get to the point where they are so faded they are unreadable, the owner of the vehicle is responsible for replacing them.

They cost 50 cents apiece, a buck a set, Jacobs said. That is what the DMV pays Nevada Prison Industries to manufacture them.

As a side note, the big horn plates should not be on the street anymore. They were replaced by the Sunset editions. As of 2003, it is illegal to have the big horns affixed to your vehicle, Jacobs said.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at (702) 387-2904, or send an e-mail to Include your phone number.

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