Texas Will Eliminate Some Specialty License Plates

by | January 9, 2015

By Eva Hershaw

Dr. Pepper, the National Wild Turkey Foundation and the Fort Worth Zoo are among 56 groups that will no longer grace the bumpers of Texas cars and trucks unless sales pick up.

Under new rules set between the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and My Plates, the company that sells specialty license plates for the state, any designs that do not record sales of at least 200 by mid-December will be permanently removed from circulation as part of an effort to make more money and sell more license plates.

“We have seen a proliferation of plates in the system. Currently, we're at 160,” said Steve Farrar, president of My Plates, which has held an exclusive contract since 2009. “It is good to do a cleanse from time to time according to what is selling. And this time, it comes as a requirement in the extension of our contract.”

The company's new contract, which runs through 2019, includes four deadlines over the course of the year. In order to prevent removal, all plates must have 50 pairs sold and in use by March 15. That threshold jumps to 100 in June, 150 in September, and 200 by mid-December, 2015.

Any plate failing to meet sales targets will be permanently removed from the state list, though people who already have those plates could use them until they expire.

There are 56 groups at risk of being pushed out of the program now, with 2014 sales ranging from a high of 199 to a low of four. The list includes burger joints, sororities and sports teams.

Of the 15 Texas high schools with specialty license plates, only Carroll ISD has hit the 200-plate mark. The Houston Rockets, by comparison, fell 29 plates short. While My Plates is helping organizations better market their license plates, other groups, regardless of marketing efforts, are unlikely to make the cut. Lake Dallas ISD, with four total sales last year, occupies the lowest position on the list of 56 specialty plates at risk.

“We have a great following that supports us, but we are a small community and we aren't going to be able to come up with the numbers they are asking for,” said Melaynee Broadstreet, director of public relations for Lake Dallas ISD. For every specialty Lake Dallas license plate sold, the school district received a royalty of 10 percent. “It is not a fundraiser we were depending on,” she added. “We have a lot of other ways to get support from the community.”

The black-and-white Lone Star Texas plate is currently the top seller. The top five selling plates – all black and white – currently account for half of total sales. Since it first partnered with the state of Texas in 2009, My Plates has sold more than 218,000 specialized license plates.

Specialty plates can be designed by a non-profit organization, individual or business. When purchased, the proceeds are divided between the state, My Plates and the organization in question as determined by contract. State agencies can also sponsor specialty plates. In the past five years, sales of specialty license plates have sent an estimated $28 million into the state general revenue fund.

The Texas Tribune | The Texas Tribune