January was the start for Oklahoma tag agents to begin handing out the newly designed aluminum license plates to people who renewed their vehicle registration.
Paula Ross, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Tax Commission, said approximately 3.5 million embossed steel tags are expected to be replaced this year through the program, which was authorized by House Bill 3326. The bill appropriated $6 million for the cost of the new plates and administrative costs "¦ but no money for disposal of the old tags.
"This sort of started when they had the centennial and they were going to try to do a new plate around that year, and it was just something that took more time to come to fruition," Ross said. "I realize the money crunch now "¦ but this is something that has been going on for several years, and this is the year it takes effect."
All vehicles in Oklahoma will receive new plates, including city, county and state vehicles.
Vanity plate holders or those who want to retain their plate number are able to keep it for a small fee.
The new plate features the "Sacred Rain Arrow" sculpture by Oklahoma artist Allan Houser, which is housed at Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum. The tag number is displayed in block letters and numbers and "Native America" runs across a blue bar at the bottom.
The new license plates are digitally inscribed, with no raised lettering, and are noticeably lighter than their predecessors.
But, what to do that with heavier tag, now being phased out as Oklahomans renew their plates, has not been addressed.
Oklahoma tag agent Cindy Virgin, owner of Moore Tag Agency in Moore, said she hasn't received any instructions from the tax commission regarding what to do with the old tags. She doesn't have much more information for her customers other than to be creative.
"Destroy them the best they can," Virgin said, "whether it's bend them up, throw them in the lake, just deface them somehow so they can't be used."
Other than the question of what to do with the old tags, Virgin said the renewal process has been smooth. "Our only problem is the tax commission has run out of some of the tags before we need them. They're having to make all the tags " commercial, trailers, farms, schools, cities, counties, state "¦ everything," she said.
Virgin said the old tags were also prone to fade out, preventing them from being easily visible to law enforcement officers.
Ross said the tags can be recycled, but it's up the owner on how they will be disposed.
At 12 inches each, if all 3.5 million old tags were laid end-to-end, they would stretch more than 662 miles. That's roughly the equivalent of a drive from Oklahoma City to Denver. "Dean Anderson