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Poll: ND's new license plate is 'fresher and more modern'

North Dakota Department of Transportation1 / 2
North Dakota Department of Transportation2 / 2

BISMARCK – The new look of North Dakota’s license plate was unveiled Wednesday, featuring a prairie theme similar to the current plate that’s been in use for more than 20 years.

Do you like ND's new license plate?

In a nod to the current plate, the new design has a buffalo in the foreground and a North Dakota landscape as a backdrop. But unlike the current plate, the images on the new design are derived from photographs, said Jamie Olson, a spokeswoman for the state transportation department.

“It’s sort of a more realistic landscape,” she said. “It looks fresher and more modern.”

Lawmakers voted to approve the new plate at a meeting of the Legislature’s Budget Section on Wednesday, Olson said. Legislators set aside $6.82 million last year to cover the cost of issuing a new general license plate for the first time since 1993.

Olson said the new plates will be distributed through the regular renewal process starting in fall 2015. More than a million license plates must be replaced with new plates by June 30, 2017. The new design won’t affect specialty license plates such as the Lewis & Clark and National Guard plates.

The new general plate doesn’t have raised lettering like the current embossed plate. As a result, Rough Rider Industries, which employs inmates at the State Penitentiary to produce the plates, is procuring equipment to make digitally printed flat plates, transportation officials said.

Another change is that the slogan “Discover the Spirit,” which appears across the top of the current plate, has been replaced with “Legendary North Dakota” on the new one. Both plates include North Dakota’s nickname – the Peace Garden State.

Because North Dakota allows a license plate to be transferred to a different vehicle, some people have kept the same plates for a decade or longer. Some older plates have started to fade and lose their reflectivity, Olson said, citing this as a reason for the new plates.

The current plate has found fans among license plate aficionados. The Automobile License Plate Collectors Association named it the best new license plate of 1993.

Mike Nowatzki of Forum News Service contributed to this report.