Dear Crabby, Why are there so many Michigan License Plates?

Dear Crabby,

Why does Michigan have so many different kinds of License Plates?

Sincerely, Art O’Revenue

Dear Art O’Revenue,

The job of government is to make things more complicated and more confusing; and to generate more money. We had it easy back in the day. The State of Michigan started requiring license plates in 1910. Each year you would go to the Secretary of State, wait in line for hours, and get a new aluminum plate. Well, you’d get two, one for the front and one for the back. They were different colors each year. Back in 1943, due to the war, metal tabs were issued instead of replacing the whole plate. America had to conserve its metal for more important things like B-17 Bombers. Galvanized steel came on the scene in 1965. The plate was yellow on blue that year to honor the University of Michigan.Dear Crabby with a Laptop Computer

Finally, someone in Lansing figured out front license plates were a waste, and in the early 1980s they only required rear plates; and they started renewing with stickers. Then in the late 1990s, it really changed.

While personalized plates, historical plates, military and veteran plates, and even collector plates were available, new slogans, fancy seals, and colorful backgrounds started showing up. I’m sure it droves the police crazy with all that different stuff going on—sunsets, skylines, forests—yuck, whatever happened to solid colors. Well, it gets worse.

For a few bucks more you can get one of those fancy Mackinac Bridge Plates if you want one. Alternatively, you can get a Fundraising Plate. For $35 upfront, and $10 renewal per year, you may sponsor one of 15 state universities, the Boy Scouts, Lighthouse Preservations and many more causes. Well, the state only keeps $10 out that first fee and the rest goes to the special cause. I guess that’s not bad, but they rejected my idea for a Dear Crabby Plate—who wouldn’t want one of those—they agreed I was obviously “special” but not an official “special cause.”

So, forget about why Michigan has so many, it just boggles the mind. Get whichever one you like best (even if you have to spend more to get it) and hope the money you spend for the plate will end up maintaining the roads, filling potholes, and supporting the cause as they promise it does.


Dear Crabby

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