I will be posting about license plate sightings on a fairly regular basis from now on, at least when I have something worth posting. I spot primarily Pennsylvania and Rhode Island plates, although I naturally see other states’ plates fairly often – mostly New Jersey (when I’m in PA) and Massachusetts (when I’m in RI).
I have been in Rhode Island for the past month or so. I will be leaving tomorrow to return to Pennsylvania, namely in the interest of beating yet another four to six inches of snow (on top of the foot we’ve already got), so it appears I may well miss the imminent rollover to the 200-xxx series of plates.
When RI began issuing the current six-digit passenger format in 2007 – presumably sometime between running out of 5-digit numbers and realising that using the exact same numbering pattern on at least three different plate types might be a bad idea – they started at 710-001. I have yet to find any explanation for this. For all I know, it was the personal preference of somebody with executive power. In any case, we do know that 700-000 through 709-999 do not appear to have ever been issued. Perhaps they are a reserved series for some as-yet-unreleased specialty plate, which would also be unusual as RI uses the same serial format across all passenger bases…
Anyway, the 710-001 progression reached 799-999 quite soon due to statewide replating efforts (although quite a significant amount of AA-xxx plates remain in use to this day) and switched to 800-000, then 900-000 by early 2009. When that reached 999-999, the issue moved to 600-000 (naturally!) in the spring of 2010. Around June of 2011, 699-999 rolled over to 500-000; the 400-xxx series appeared in the fall of 2012, and the current (for now) 300-xxx series began issue towards the end of 2013.
From this, one can reasonably assume that plates in Rhode Island are issued at a fairly consistent rate, exhausting one full xxx-xxx series roughly every 15 months.
Within the past week, I have seen two plates in the 399-xxx series. One was 399-1?? (it was a front plate that the owner had already bent under their bumper…oops) and more recently I spotted 399-384, which is the current (albeit unverified) high. I can’t easily take photos while driving, be it with my camera or my cell phone, although the ability to take photos with my voice (saying “cheese” to my phone, I kid you not) is potentially quite helpful. The highest I have spotted and verified is 397-822 on 20 January. Since we were sitting in the drive-thru queue, my girlfriend was able to snap a photo with her iPhone (although she still doesn’t understand my fascination with license plates).
This means that 399-999 will be issued very soon, if it hasn’t already, and we should then start seeing 200-xxx series plates. It’d be neat if I could spot at least one before I leave. With my luck, though, I’ll see a 200-xxx series high leaving Rhode Island, on I-295 or I-95, at night, while it’s snowing. Such is life!
In other plate news:
Pennsylvania has reportedly reached at least JTN-3xxx in my absence. When I left in early January, the high was JTA-2749 and the highest I’d seen was JSZ-7578.
PA Permanent Trailer plates have reached PT-9999Z and the issue has progressed to PT-000A0. I am unsure if this new serial format has been seen yet, but PA’s plate history would suggest this is indeed the logical next serial format and by now I’m sure there are at least a handful or two out on the highways.
Rhode Island Veteran plates continue to confuse me (and others) with their varied formats. Technically, the Veteran plates are – as in all other states – special-issue, usually carry a reduced fee, and require official verification of veteran status. RI does have active-duty plates, but only for the National Guard. The thing is, also like many states, RI issues several types of plates to veterans of the armed forces. There appear to be three distinct formats: Veteran, War Veteran, and Disabled Veteran. Now, by “distinct,” I mean there is literally no difference whatsoever aside from the caption at the bottom (Veteran, War Veteran, or Disabled Veteran). The background is an American flag, there’s an Armed Forces seal on the far right, and they all follow an all-numeric serial format. Currently the high is 19905. The highest I can verify with a photo is 16489, which I spotted back in November. I saw 19307 not even two weeks later.
It seems the “War Veteran” slogan has been discontinued in favour of “Veteran,” presumably because many who serve(d) in some capacity (and thus qualify for these plates) served in some non-combat role; indeed, there are plenty who have served in the armed forces during peacetime, which makes the “War Veteran” slogan not only incorrect, but also potentially undesirable! The Disabled Veteran plates draw from different serials, the highest I’ve seen being three digits, but the plates are identical in every other way. Since the caption is relatively small and often covered by a plate frame or something, it’s not always possible to tell what kind of veteran plate you’re looking at. Also, unlike many states, Rhode Island does not issue any sort of handicap plate, favoring instead exclusively placards hung from the rearview mirror, like neighboring Massachusetts. I assume this means the Disabled Veteran plate does not itself confer handicap parking privileges, as (for example) the PA Severely Disabled Veteran plate does. I am under the impression that federal law requires the handicapped symbol to appear on anything conferring such privileges, as one can see on other states’ handicap plates.
But even with that in mind, it seems rather superfluous. I’m sure law enforcement has better things to do than checking for placards in a car with a “Disabled Veteran” plate on. It does say “disabled,” after all.
A new plate design has apparently been announced for Rhode Island, although I have no further information on when it will be formally released or even if it’ll be simply another option (like the current Sailboat Plate). My understanding is that the Wave Plates are being superceded by whatever this new design is (not replaced, since in typical RI practice all older plates will remain valid indefinitely, until illegible or retired)…we shall see.