The DOT is finally going to look at a new license plate design. That’s…fine, I guess. Iowa ended up being on the front end of the light-blue-at-top-gradient-to-white style that spread across the country. IIRC, the design — the first not to be a solid color — didn’t particularly please anyone. But it’s the planned implementation, which could start next year, that I have a problem with.
In the 1979, 1986, and 1997 rollouts, when Iowa went to registration stickers for extended periods, the entire state had its plates replaced over a year. But this time the DOT won’t automatically replace everyone’s plates, but roll them out on the 10-year replacement cycle. That’s really stupid. That means that for a decade, we will have two presumably very different styles out on the road, both valid. In fact, in 2020, you would see four variants:
- The W’s, X’s, and two-thirds of the Y’s from the 1997-2012 cycle, numbers-then-letters in blue on current background, that won’t be replaced yet
- The rest of the Y’s and Z’s in black on current background
- The alphanumeric sequence we’re currently in, letters-then-numbers, from AAA to somewhere probably in the G’s, on the 1997 background that would be good for another half-decade-plus
- And plates with the new design but continuing the alphanumeric sequence from 2012.
- The above doesn’t count the dozens of specialty plates and any older ones that slip through the cracks; I’ve seen at least two vintage 1997-2000 plates still around with current stickers.
County names will still be on the plates. That’s good. And presumably we’ll keep both front and back, which is the way it should be. But the mismatches are going to be epic; it’ll be like seeing vehicles from two states every day.