Vehicle registration plates of Ohio
License plates are issued in the U.S. state of Ohio for several types of vehicles by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, part of the Department of Public Safety. Most types of plates are issued in pairs, to be displayed in the front and rear of the vehicle. They are made of galvanized steel and manufactured by inmates at Ohio Penal Industries at the Lebanon Correctional Institution. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles issues a new license plate design about every five years, or with each new administration in the state government.
On May 19, 1902, Cleveland became one of the first cities in the country to require motorists to display government-issued registration numbers on their vehicles. In the following years, various local governments in Ohio issued standard metal plates of varying design or numerals (to be mounted on a dark background), including:
- Canton (1905)
- Cleveland (1907–08)
- Cincinnati (initials only 1903–05; 1906–08; motorcycles in 1911, 1913), abbreviated "Cinti"
- Columbus (1907–08), abbreviated "Col's"
- Dayton (1905, 1907, 1908; motorcycles in 1912, 1913)
- Delhi Township, Hamilton County (1906–08), abbreviated "Delhi"
- East Liverpool (Health Department vehicles in 1924)
- Elyria (motorcycles in 1910)
- Hamilton (1907), abbreviated "Haml"
- Lima (motorcycles in 1908, 1912–13)
- Lorain (1907)
- Mansfield (1903)
- Massillon (1906), abbreviated "M"
- Newark (motorcycles in 1912–13)
- Sandusky (1903)
- Springfield (unknown; motorcycles in 1913), abbreviated "Spfd" on motorcycles
- Toledo (1904, 1907)
- Warren (1908)
In 1906, the state attempted to take over auto registration under the Ward Automobile Law, but litigation delayed the program until the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of the law. The Ohio Secretary of State's Automobile Division, precursor to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, was established in 1907. The Ward Law went into effect on June 11, 1908, but the Automobile Division did not begin issuing plates for another 30 days due to a manufacturing defect. Locally issued and owner-provided license plates were phased out by 1909 for automobiles, but local plates continued to be used for motorcycles until 1914. One effect of the Ward Law was to eliminate a significant revenue stream for cities like Cincinnati, which took in about $5,000 a year (equivalent to $131,000 today) from auto registrations.
Various Ohio license plate designs from 1908 to 1921 used distinctive monograms instead of a fully spelled-out state name.
Passenger number plates were always issued in pairs, with the exception of 1944–1946, during World War II. In 1953, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles issued special pairs of license plates to commemorate the state's sesquicentennial. The back plate listed the years 1803 and 1953, while the front plate bore a special design instead of the license number, with the word "sesqui-centennial" [sic] below. Windshield stickers were issued along with the previous year's plates in 1943, 1952, and 1975. Multi-year licence plates, renewable with decal stickers, replaced single-year plates beginning in 1976.
Starting in 1935, a county coding scheme involving the letters in the plate's serial number was introduced. This scheme was used throughout the state until the 1970s, when the system broke down in the most populous counties because of the number of vehicles registered in them. The coding scheme was abandoned with the issuance of the 1981 plates, and long county stickers were introduced in 1984. Beginning with new specialty plates in 1992 and all new plates in October 2001, the state adopted a county coding scheme on a sticker that displays the county number based on its placement in alphabetical order.
In 1956, the U.S. states and Canadian provinces came to an agreement with the Automobile Manufacturers Association that standardized the size for license plates for vehicles, except those for motorcycles, at 6 inches (150 mm) in height by 12 inches (300 mm) in width, with standardized mounting holes. The 1955 (dated 1956) issue was the first Ohio license plate that complied with these standards.
In 1967, the state began issuing special plates to DUI offenders with limited driving privileges. Judges in Ohio, however, rarely issued them until a 2004 state law made it mandatory for all DUI offenders with limited driving privileges to have them.
Passenger baseplates 1908 to present
Only plates issued since 1996 are currently eligible for display.
|Image||Dates issued||Design||Slogan||Serial format||Serials issued||Notes|
|1908||White lettering on dark blue base||none||1234||unknown||Ohio stylized logo instead of state name|
|1910||White lettering on wood grain base||none||1234
|1911||Black lettering on white base||none||12345||unknown|
|1914||Red lettering on white base||none||12345||unknown||Ohio stylized logo instead of state name|
|1915||Black lettering on ivory yellow base||none||12345||unknown||Ohio stylized logo instead of state name|
|1919||White embossed lettering on red base||none||123456||unknown||Ohio stylized logo instead of state name|
|1926||White embossed lettering on brown base||none||123-456||unknown|
|1938||Black on white with black covered wagon silhouette||150 Anniv·
|1942||Green on white||none|
|1950||Black embossed lettering and border on yellow base||none||A-123-B||unknown||Aluminum "waffle" hatch-textured base used for strength|
|1959||Red embossed lettering and border on white base||none||AB-1234||unknown|
|1960||Blue on yellow|
|1963||White embossed lettering and border on dark blue base|
|1965||Red on white|
|1966||White on maroon|
|1967||White on blue|
|1968||Red on white|
|1969||Blue on white|
|1970||Scarlet on gray||Issued in Ohio State University colors to commemorate 1969 national football championship|
|1971||Black on yellow|
|1972||Yellow on dark blue|
|1973||White on green||Seat Belts Fastened?|
|1974||Green on reflective white||Seat Belts Fastened?|
|1975||Green on reflective white||Seat Belts Fastened?||1974 plates with white on green validation sticker|
|1976 to 1980||Red on reflective white|
|1980 to 1985||Blue on reflective white, shape of Ohio used as separator||123•ABC|
|1985 to 1991||Green embossed lettering and shape of Ohio on white base||none||123•ABC||unknown|
|1991 to 1996||Blue embossed lettering and shape of Ohio on white base||The Heart of it All||ABC•123||ABC•123 to ?|
|1996 to 1998||Dark blue on gold gradient fade||The Heart of it All||ABC 1234||AAA 0001 to ARZ 9999|
|1998 to 2001||Dark blue on gold gradient fade||Birthplace of Aviation||ABC 1234||ASA 0001 to approximately BIF 9999, CAA 0001 to ?|
|2001 to 2003||Dark blue on reflective white with Ohio Bicentennial Commission logo and red and blue bars||Ohio Bicentennial
Birthplace of Aviation
|AB12CD||AA10AA to EZ99ZZ|
|2004 to 2010||"Sunburst": Dark blue on reflective white with state seal graphic and red and blue bars||Birthplace of Aviation||ABC 1234||DAA 1000 to EQZ 9999 ; EUJ 1000 to FAK 9999 (This gap was caused by the "Beautiful Ohio" plates that were already manufactured.)|
|2010 to 2012||"Beautiful Ohio": Dark blue on rolling hills with farm, distant skyline, and airborne biplane||Beautiful Ohio
Birthplace of Aviation
|ABC 1234||ERA 1000 to EUH 9999 ; FAL 1000 to ? (This gap was caused by the state's decision to not issue the "Beautiful Ohio" plates at the time of the recession.)||Available as a no-cost alternative to the concurrent "Sunburst" design from November 23, 2009 to 2010, when it became the primary design. Originally limited to 1.5 million plates. Largely designed by Frances Strickland.|
|2013 to present||"Ohio Pride": Word cloud background and red triangle resembling an airplane wing||Birthplace of Aviation
46 "slogans" total, including facts and famous names
|ABC 1234||Fxx0000||Current standard license plate. Remaining "Beautiful Ohio" design pictured above will be melted and recycled into the new Ohio Pride design as so materials are not wasted. Designed by Aaron Roberts and chosen among four concept drawings put forward by the CCAD Design Group.|
Alternative passenger plates
|Image||Dates issued||Design||Slogan||Serial format||Serials issued||Notes|
|1967 to present||Red on yellow for DUI offenders with limited driving privileges. Issued since 1967 but rarely used before the plate became mandated on all DUI offenders in 2004.||none||123456
From the 1976 until 1996, license plates for pickup trucks and other light truck-related vehicles (SUVs and conversion vans aside) were issued truck plates that said "Non Comm" (for "non-commercial truck") while semi-trucks were issued plates that said "Commercial". Since 1996, however, the more consumer-oriented truck plates now say "Truck," instead of "Non-Comm."
Ohio uses a numerical county-coding scheme to indicate the county of registration. The county code is displayed on stickers placed on the lower left corner of both the front and rear plates.
The county number is the most visible, while the full county name is in small print below. The scheme assigns a number to each of the state's eighty-eight counties based on its position alphabetically. For example Adams County, the first alphabetically, is assigned the number 01, and Wyandot County, the last alphabetically, is assigned the number 88.
List of county numbers
On recent seven-character baseplates, the state has reserved certain letter series to be issued in coordination with specific car dealerships or leasing agencies.
- Blackwell, Brandon (January 29, 2013). "Ohio license plate recall brings more questions than answers". The Plain Dealer (Advance Publications). Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- ""Flat" License Plates Now Issued For Made-To-Order Plates" (Press release). Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Ohio Department of Public Safety. 2003-08-12. Archived from the original on 2003-12-02. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- Pulfer, Mike (June 3, 2002). "Ask A Stupid Question". The Cincinnati Enquirer (Gannett Company). Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- "Beautiful Ohio ousts sunburst as state plate". The Blade (Toledo, Ohio: Block Communications). June 7, 2010. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
- McNair, James (July 31, 2013). "Is Ohio's New License Plate the Worst or Just Bad?". Cincinnati CityBeat (SouthComm). Retrieved September 5, 2013.
- Tanner, Eric N. "Ohio License Plates Prestate City/County". License Plate Information. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
- Raiche, Steve. "Ohio". LeatherLicensePlates.com. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- Taylor, Eric Robert (January 20, 2013). "Ohio Archive". PorcelainPlates.net. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
- "ODPS Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles History". Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- "Minor Mention". The Horseless Age (Horseless Age Company) 21: 617. May 20, 1908. "Under the new Ward automobile law, which has recently passed into effect in Ohio, the cities cannot license automobiles, and lose thereby a substantial income, Cincinnati, for instance, about $5,000 a year."
- Ohio BMV Chronological History 1908-2010 (PDF). Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
- Nicholson, David (June 15, 2013). "Ohio License Plates, 1969-present". 15q.net. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- Blundo, Joe (June 7, 2010). "LUV IT or H8 IT". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- "New Ohio Pride License Plate". Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- Luce, Lacey (2011-11-28). "CCAD, Governor Unveil New Ohio License Plate Design". Retrieved 2012-09-30.
- "Issuing Requirements". Dealer Licensing Division, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. 2009-12-01. Retrieved 2010-09-19.
- "ODPS Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles History". Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved 2010-09-19.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to License plates of Ohio.|
- Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles: Registration and Titling
- Ohio BMV Chronological History 1908-2010, with a comprehensive listing of Ohio license plate designs since 1908
- Ohio license plates 1969-present