New SD License Plates Go Blue on Brown

Taxpayers and art critics, start your engines! The Department of Revenue has unveiled the design for South Dakota’s new license plates, coming in 2016:

Design for new South Dakota license plate, coming 2016
Design for new South Dakota license plate, coming 2016

Hmm… blue on brown. Didn’t we try a brown background in the 1990s that folks disliked due to poor readability? But the plates will have 3M retroreflective material, so the text on the plate ought to pop out at us, right?

I will miss the red touches on our current plate—when it comes to official insignia, you can’t beat read, white and blue!

Intellectual Technology, Inc. (principal place of business: Fort Wayne, Indiana; headquarters: Carlsbad, California) landed the ten-year contract. They’ll get $2.45 for each plate that Pheasantland Industries (our literally captive workforce) stamps out, with a maximum of $12,625,343 every five years. ITI will use 0.022-gauge aluminum.

ITI has supplied our license plate renewal kiosks and on-demand services since 2002. Per Contract 15-0200-017, those on-demand systems will allow residents to order their new plates and have them mailed to their homes.

The Department of Revenue estimates it will issue 1,425,500 sets of standard automobile plates next year (that’s one and two-thirds sets of plates for every man, woman, and child in South Dakota). The state estimates that it will issue 10% of those plates on-demand through the kiosks and the Internet, and it expects those on-demand orders to increase by two percentage points each year through 2020.


61 Responses to New SD License Plates Go Blue on Brown

  1. Bill Fleming

    Here’s a fun overview of the ‘marketplace.’ I think we probably slipped down a notch.
    https://www.thrillist.com/rides/all-50-united-states-license-plates-ranked

  2. Thanks, Bill! That ranker seems to take issue with simplicity.

    I just hope they don’t change the county numbering scheme. Having plates stay with cars across purchases dilutes the geographic effectiveness, but I like having that information available at a glance.

  3. Great places low wages South Dakota

  4. Design change is overdue, but this design is bland. Bland for a standard plate isn’t a sin in itself. But I see so many specialty plates from other states that I have always wondered why South Dakota doesn’t offer a good variety of specialty plates people can purchase at extra charge. If I were running the department in charge of license plates we would have a wide variety of attractive and interesting plates that people would want to buy. The specialty plates would again be stamped steel rather than flimsy flat aluminum of the standard issue blandies.

  5. larry kurtz

    rancor.

  6. Cory wrote:
    >>“Intellectual Technology, Inc. (principal place of business: Fort Wayne, Indiana; headquarters: Carlsbad, California) landed the ten-year contract.”

    “Rorschach” wrote:
    >“Design change is overdue, but this design is bland.”

    It’s all about readability, neighbors. We’re being tracked:
    https://www.aclu.org/feature/you-are-being-tracked

  7. mike from iowa

    South Dakota’s plates should be red-the color of corruption.

  8. Disgusted Dakotan

    Ugh! Why do we need to spend $$ on new ones? Oh, yeah.. I forgot.. they passed several tax and fee increases last year for “highways” so they are fat with cash.

  9. W R Old Guy

    I think one of the best comment on why we didn’t like the old brown background plates was; “The plates still look dirty after you wash your car”. I hope these don’t have the same look.

  10. Moses! Great bumper sticker idea! Our license plates should include a little electronic display that would allow us to customize messages each day to reflect our political moods.

  11. Dirt! I remember that protest, WR! Mud is not a good color for license plates. (I shun brown in general as a fashion choice.)

  12. just for the hell of it, i’d like to see the analysis whichled tothe self-serve sales projections. a dart board?

  13. DD, I’m willing to accept the state’s explanation that it’s less about making more money and more about plates wearing out losing their reflecto-finish over ten years… which wouldn’t be as much of an issue if we just built them out of steel like in the old days, right?

    Of course, we wouldn’t even need license plates if we’d just let the government inject us all with microchips. (That’s Kurt-bait. :-) )

  14. Paul Seamans

    Aluminum plates on a farm vehicle do not last very long. Go back to the steel.

    I like moses’ comment. “Great places, low wages”. I would offer, “South Dakota, 51st in everything” (except in those cases where being 1st is considered bad, such as a listing of corrupt state governments).

  15. Bob, a dartboard would have at least given us different numbers for each year. Speculation: Maybe they’ve seen usage increase two percentage points over the last few years and they figure the pattern will continue?

  16. I checked with Department of Revenue: we aren’t changing the county numbering system! Hooray!

    I also wondered how the sequencing will work. As it stands now, if I see 43K 444 and 43 L219, I know the former plate was picked up before the latter (to the extent that matters). But if one can order plates at the courthouse and online, then how do we know who ordered first?

    DOR explains it this way: Pheasantland prints out license plates in the order that orders are processed. They print out license plates for counties in batches of one thousand. So suppose the first crate goes to Treasurer Fischer in at the Lake County Courthouse before the beginning of the year. She gets 43A 000 through 43A 999 (or would it be 43A 001 through 43B 001? Do we skip any numbers?). She unloads the first hundred in the first week, and then Commissioner Corbin orders his plates online. The computer at the penitentiary sees that the next license plate number to print for Lake County if 43B 000. Zap! The computer prints that number and mails that plate to Commissioner Corbin. So you could see a new B plate well before all of the A plates hit the street.

    And when Treasurer Fischer orders the next thousand plates for Lake County, she won’t get a box running from 43B 000 to 43B 999. Suppose my dad orders his plates online at 10:30 a.m. and gets 43B 113. If Fischers clicks “Order” on her computer at 10:31 a.m., the pen plate printer will crank out 43B 114 through 43C 113 for Lake County’s next thousand-batch. Then if my dad punches in the order for my mom’s plates at 10:32, she’ll get 43C 114, making it look like she got her plates much later than Dad did, even the orders were only two minutes apart.

    Again, not that this makes much practical difference… but it’s the kind of thing a guy thinks about while driving across the prairie.

  17. Paul Seamans

    I recently bought new plates at the Jones County courthouse. The next plate in line was —665. I asked if I could have —666. She said that South Dakota does not issue that number. Reserved for the Devil?

  18. BlackHills76

    I’m glad they are keeping the county numbers too. It is always sort of neat to know what county a car is from. Also the first 9 might not be exactly right population wise anymore, but in cases like this it is best just to keep things the way they are since many of us have the numbers memorized. The only thing I am wondering is will they finally start the numbers over with 1AA001 or 10A0001 instead of continuing on? In some of the larger double digit counties the plate numbers are getting pretty ugly with lots of letters. It would be best if they started fresh again.

  19. Ah, good question, Hills! I would imagine that we can’t have two 1AA 001s driving around, even if they have different designs. Maybe they’ll continue right where they leave off with the last new issue in December, then reset to simple numbers on January 1, 2017?

  20. County designation numbers lead to racial profiling.

  21. BlackHills76

    Well either that Cory or switch to a version that splits the letters… like 1A123A or 10A12A. I guess we will have to see what happens. I bet if you have a contact up there they could explain how their numbering process will go.

  22. Steve Hickey

    I like it.

  23. mike from iowa

    Paul-South Dakota has enough crazies without stirring up fauknee bible thumper’s fear of the devil.

  24. No 666? Really?!

    Jerry, you may have a valid point about racial profiling… but do the license plate numbers expose our Oglala Lakota and Dewey County neighbors to any greater scrutiny than what they get just by Driving While Indian?

  25. BlackHills76

    Cory… I was just thinking… They can start over because there is no 1AA001 or 10A001 still in use. 10 years ago they continued on where the old plates left off.

    I hope this is the case because it would be nice if places like Lincoln Co. could re-start at a nice clean 44A001 instead of the current 44ABC1.

  26. Abc simple as one two three, do rae ma abc Hey girl I think I luv you .

  27. Since I don’t know, I’ll ask.

    Why are we sending so much money out of state? Is there no one here that could do what the Indiana/California firm does?

    Bill Fleming, did they issue an RFP to South Dakota creatives to bid on creating the new plates?

  28. Bill Fleming

    Jana, I don’t know. If they issued one, I didn’t see it. Here’s how far behind I am on that design and printing job. I thought it was still being done by prisoners in the state prison. :-)

  29. Donald Pay

    Are they still going to have the county numbers?

  30. On the one hand I wish they would’ve issued an RFP to our creative community…and on the other hand, I’m hoping this wasn’t designed by creatives in the state.

    Just seems strange that there wasn’t a taxpaying business that could have gotten some benefit out of the millions they sent out of state.

    Speaking of prison labor, didn’t the GOP think that they were the best to wire our schools for technology rather than support local contractors? Seems funny now, but imagine a Dem saying I’m going to unleash convicts inside our schools and trust them with not just the technology…but our kids!

    Not to mention using captive labor to undermine the free market! You know, that mythical economic utopia that the GOP keeps harping on while filling their pockets with taxpayer money.

    And their worried about socialism?!? Is that before or after they support Ag subsidies?

  31. Cory wrote:
    >>>“Of course, we wouldn’t even need license plates if we’d just let the government inject us all with microchips. (That’s Kurt-bait. :-) )”

    Paul Seamans wrote:
    >>“I recently bought new plates at the Jones County courthouse. The next plate in line was —665. I asked if I could have —666. She said that South Dakota does not issue that number. Reserved for the Devil?”

    Well, this is an interesting convergence. The Bible technically says 666 is the number of the human Antichrist rather than Satan himself, but are you guys aware that some Christians identify the number with microchip implants? I’m not sure I agree with them, but you can google “microchip 666” if you want to learn more.

    These are relevant excerpts from Revelation 13: “It was also given to him [the first beast, Antichrist] to make war with the saints [Christians] and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him… Then I saw another beast … And he [the second beast, false prophet] causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.”

    “BlackHills76” wrote:
    >“They can start over because there is no 1AA001 or 10A001 still in use. 10 years ago they continued on where the old plates left off. I hope this is the case because it would be nice if places like Lincoln Co. could re-start at a nice clean 44A001 instead of the current 44ABC1.”

    My license number in high school was 40A 001. Don’t ask me why. It was my dad’s doing.

  32. bearcreekbat

    Kurt, what is your take on Revelation 2:23 in which Jesus promises to kill Jezabel’s babies? From the King James translation: “And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”

    Do you think this verse is consistent with a right to life philosophy?

  33. “Bearcreekbat” wrote:
    >“Kurt, what is your take on Revelation 2:23 in which Jesus promises to kill Jezabel’s babies? … Do you think this verse is consistent with a right to life philosophy?”

    Yes. Strictly speaking, the right to life is the right not to be murdered. It isn’t the right to live forever.

  34. W R Old Guy

    Maybe the feds will carry on with the EB-5 investigation and obtain convictions. We could then issue license plates like this.

    http://www.zazzle.com/illinois_where_our_governors_make_our_lic_plates_tshirt-235594059043447233

    Click on the zoom in to get a better view.

  35. Wayne Pauli

    why can’t we have just 1 plate like some states? All the front plate does is catch bugs.

  36. Wayne Pauli

    it would cut the cost in half

  37. Fleming, you’re an ad guy! Great Faces blah blah blah. How many governor’s ago did they (Lawrence & Shill) come up with that sad sack? Let’s stick with something current. Ride the tide, kids. What’s the latest scoop on South Dakota?

    The Daily Mail reports South Dakota has the second best looking guys! Say what? Yep. Montana is number 1 and Utah’s got number 3.

    We’re number 2! State with the second best lookin’ guys. Now for the money shot:

    You’ll come for The Faces, but you’ll stay for our guys!

    Whaddya think????

  38. I think with the fancy computers these days they could let people pick their own license plates like how you can pick those fancy different colors or baseball teams on your mark-of-the-beast electronic payment credit cards that make Mr. T Denny so very richer than most.

  39. Donald, yes, the numbering scheme remains!

    Wayne, how many states do just one plate?

  40. Owen, an Ozzy plate? Rock on!

  41. I didn’t think I would find a reason to comment on the article about license plates…BUT…..I’m with Owen n Cory. THATS a license plate!

    Ozzie for governor!

  42. bearcreekbat

    Kurt, why don’t Jezabel’s babies have a right not to be murdered by Jesus?

  43. “Bearcreekbat” asks about Revelation 2:23:
    >“Kurt, why don’t Jezabel’s babies have a right not to be murdered by Jesus?”

    I ignored these errors in your previous comment (2015-10-23 at 18:55), but there’s no letter a in Jezebel, and the passage doesn’t say Jezebel’s children are babies.

    According to the Bible, murder is defined based on God’s rules for us and not based on our rules for Him. Since Christ’s death, resurrection and glorification, He’s had essentially the same right to give and take life as God the Father.

  44. bearcreekbat

    Kurt, thanks for the correction of my spelling error and your take on the passage. Given your viewpoint, I am unsure of your point when you distinguish “babies” from “children.” Aren’t “babies” “children”? If not, why would it matter? If it is okay for Jesus to kill innocent “children” to punish them for the sins of their mother, then logic suggests he could kill innocent “babies” for the same reason, or for no reason at all, right?

    Cory, sorry for getting off topic – the discussion of 666 for a license plate number, along with Kurt’s invocation of the Bible, got me started in this direction. And Kurt is such a gentleman, I both appreciate and learn much from his thoughtful responses and posts.

  45. “Bearcreekbat” asks:
    >“Aren’t ‘babies’ ‘children’?”

    Yes, but not all children are babies.

    >“If not, why would it matter?”

    One reason it would matter to me is John’s warning in Revelation 22: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll. If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.”

    >“If it is okay for Jesus to kill innocent ‘children’ to punish them for the sins of their mother, then logic suggests he could kill innocent ‘babies’ for the same reason, or for no reason at all, right?”

    I don’t think so, and in any case I’m not sure the Revelation 2 passage says either that Jezebel’s children are innocent or that they’re being punished for her sins.

  46. Thanks for that list, Don. And I learn from SDCL 32-5-46 that those single-platers don’t have to put on a second plate when they enter South Dakota.

    But just one plate? Dang—then I can’t play road trip bingo with the oncoming cars. :-)

  47. Kurt, good work piquing BCB’s interest and treating him to such civil conversation. BCB, it’s just license plates—let your mind wander. Mention 666, and anything is bound to happen. :-)

  48. At least the colors are better now. The previous ones—red writing on blue background—were really difficult to read. That’s basic technical writing and/or graphic design: Don’t put red on a blue or green background, and vice-versa. Your eyes literally have trouble processing those colors together.

    Personally I think it’s still too cluttered—or, at least, the background is too strong compared to the writing. Also, it would be nice if we could get rid of that scrawled “South Dakota” logo and replace it with something updated and readable. It’s a license plate after all, not a Department of Tourism travel guide. But it’s overall an improvement, and at least we don’t have plates so aggressively plain and ugly as some states, like Missouri, with the peeling tag in the middle of the plate.

  49. Paul Seamans had written:
    >>>>“I recently bought new plates at the Jones County courthouse. The next plate in line was —665. I asked if I could have —666. She said that South Dakota does not issue that number. Reserved for the Devil?”

    I’d replied:
    >>>“The Bible technically says 666 is the number of the human Antichrist rather than Satan himself …”

    Cory writes:
    >“Mention 666, and anything is bound to happen.”

    Hopefully it isn’t bound to happen that these jokers file a religious discrimination lawsuit over South Dakota’s license plate policy:

    Central Administration Office
    Church of Satan
    P.O. Box 666
    Poughkeepsie, NY 12602-0666

    For the record, I’m not making that address up:
    http://www.churchofsatan.com/

    “Bearcreekbat” wrote:
    >>“And Kurt is such a gentleman, I both appreciate and learn much from his thoughtful responses and posts.”

    Cory wrote:
    >“Kurt, good work piquing BCB’s interest and treating him to such civil conversation.”

    Thanks, guys.

  50. I happen to know if you don’t actually install the front plate it will cost you $120 when the highway patrol pulls you over for it. Yes… they don’t really have anything better to do.

    I find it hypocritical to require a second plate when we have motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, and even three wheeled vehicles as large as small cars that still qualify for a “motorcycle” plate – of which there is only one (no front plate). It is a waste of money to produce two plates for every vehicle, and frankly on some cars… they are just ugly.

    Oh and about those county numbers – all my vehicles use the organizational / emblem plates simply because I don’t like the idea of someone thinking they know me or where I come from just because of a few numbers on my license plate. I don’t even bother to slap on a emblem… so take that busybodies!

  51. Craig, your emblemless plates are going to take away my fun on the road!

    I do like the point you raise about the apparent conflict between requiring two plates on cars but only one on smaller vehicles. What’s the difference? If we need to be able to identify cars coming or going, why do we not have the same need with motorcycles?

  52. There will always be special rules for motorcycles – we ignore the fact that most don’t have any emissions control devices while mandating every new car has those features (just ask VW how expensive that can be).

    We mandate all drivers and front seat passengers wear safety belts while ignoring any requirement for motorcyclists to wear helmets even though it is proven to save lives.

    We require all vehicles to have operational turn signals and brake lights but allow motorcyclists to use hand signals as a suitable replacement (which in most cases means they don’t bother).

    Heck – smaller mopeds that are 50ccs or smaller – and some lightweight electric motorcycles don’t even require license plates at all! They can operate on our roadways free of charge and they don’t even require insurance. As mentioned previously, those bikes that do require plates only need one while drivers of every other type of vehicle on the road are required to have two.

    Then of course we have the noise pollution issue. If a car lacks a muffler and is loud they are often ticketed and told they need to address the issue. However you can’t spend more than 10 minutes on a summer evening on 41st Street in Sioux Falls without hearing at least a few motorcycles with straight pipes or little to no sound attenuation on their exhaust. In most cases they are simply ignored amid the “loud pipes save lives” nonsensical protests.

    There are two sets of rules I guess – how much of that is due to the annual rally in Sturgis I cannot say, but I’m sure that tax revenue is a major factor.

  53. So Craig, if I catch your drift, you’re saying motorcyclists are a more powerful political force than marijuana users?

  54. I’d say that is an accurate statement – partly because many, many police officers are motorcyclists themselves. Not sure how many might smoke marijuana on their free time, but I’m guessing the idea of random drug tests probably keeps that number to a minimum.

    However the real reason motorcyclists hold so much power is due to that week or two each year when the Sturgis Rally is held. If there is one thing politicians and police officers can agree on, it is that the tax dollar deserves top billing. That is why we look the other way regarding loud exhausts and why we still fail to pass laws mandating helmets.

    Such is life. There are much greater injustices to worry about of course.

  55. Why aren’t the Presidents facing the correct direction? Are they even in the right order? Who designs these things?

  56. Karen, yes, the Presidents are in the right Rushmore order—Washington, Jefferson, T Roosevelt, Lincoln. The angle may look a little odd, as it appears to be more from the northeast than the usual view straight from the visitors’ center, but the faces appear to be pointing in the same relative directions as they do on the monument.

  57. Those front plates are a real issue for me, had a hard time putting two screws into the front bumper of my brand new 2016 Sportage, and that front plate does nothing for the looks of my car.

  58. Darin Larson

    Another reason for the front plate that I didn’t see mentioned is the plate readers that the police use to automatically check for registration and warrants etc. probably work best when approaching the patrol car rather than after the car has already wizzed by. It also gives the officer more time to catch the offending vehicle if they know that there is an issue as the vehicle approaches rather than after it has gone by.