New rule extends life cycle of Indiana license plates

The life cycle of Indiana's license plates is being extended under a new rule at the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The state's license plates will be redesigned and replaced every seven years, rather than every five years. The new rule took effect Friday, The Times of Munster reported.

BMV spokeswoman Sarah Adolf said extending the life of license plates will save the state money because it won't have to buy as much metal. The agency spends about $6.25 to produce a license plate. In years a new plate is issued, motorists don't pay an extra registration charge.

As a result, Indiana will save about $10 million for every year current license plates stay on vehicles, according to the Legislative Services Agency.

A state law passed last year authorized the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to adopt rules permitting the use of license plates for up to 10 years.

At least some plates with old designs will remain on the roads following redesigns, with the agency deciding to only replace a plate after it has been used for seven years. Formerly, plates were replaced in any year a new license plate design debuted.

"Now, a plate's life cycle begins when a person receives their plate — each individual's plate will be used for the full seven years," Adolf said.

The standard license plates that mark the state's 2016 bicentennial were first used in 2013 and were due to be replaced in 2018. The new rule means they could stay on the roads until at least 2020, and Adolf says no decision was been made on whether to stick to original retirement schedule.

The five-year license plate life cycle was adopted in 1993. License plates were replaced every three years from 1981 to 1993, and the plates were generally replaced annually prior to 1981.

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