Blackout Buzz: Iowa DOT Offering Convienent Way to Get New Popular License Plates

DES MOINES, Iowa -- You may have seen them out on the roadways, the new blackout license plates. It's all the buzz right now and the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is catering to the high demand.

Starting Tuesday, Sept. 3rd, anyone who wants a non-personalized, alpha-numeric version of the blackout specialty license plates can get them at their local county treasurer's office.

“It really is in response to what we saw in the demand because most of our specialty plates we don’t keep in stock because we only sell a few of them at a time and it doesn't make sense to carry inventory in all of our county treasurer's office,” Iowa DOT Director Mark Lowe said. “But people are asking for these frequently enough that it makes sense to have inventory in every county treasurer's office so people can just walk in exchange their plates and walk out with those, at least for the ones that aren't personalized.”

For just $35 and then an annual $10 dollar fee, you can bring in your current plates and exchange your them for the new blackout ones.

The blackout plates rolled out on July 1st, and Lowe said just a few months in they've sold almost 10,000 of them, raising almost $400,000. All that money is going to the Road Use Tax Fund, helping fund road and bridge infrastructure throughout the state. And that has Iowans pretty excited.

“I see nothing wrong with using all kinds of ways to have a license plate that anyone can enjoy and some people like this black one with the white lettering. I think it's a great idea,” Iowan Jim Jones said.

“I don't think everyone will get them, but all these new black vehicles, they look very stylish on there. I drive a blue car, I don't know if I would really care for a black license plate on a blue car, but you know, as long as the money is going to help our roads because they need, they need fixing,” Iowan Bill Elias said.

The idea came about because there are a few other states that offer a blackout license plates and a group of legislators wanted to bring it to Iowa. Before these new plates, some Iowans were finding illegal ways to get that “blackout” effect.

“Some folks were buying the Dordt College plates because they are black and you could get a frame that blacked out Dordt or were putting tape over that,” Lowe said. “I would caution people, that's technically against the law. You can't have plate frames or anything that covers letters and numbers on the plate. So if you want to avoid a citation for that you can come in and order the new blackout plates instead and not have to worry about that.”

If you want a blackout plate that's also personalized that will cost $60 with a $15 annual registration fee and has to be ordered online.

This new plate is already the fourth most popular specialty plate in Iowa. Only the University of Iowa, Iowa State and the Natural Resources Goldfinch plates are out on the roadways more than the new blackout one.

For more information go to iowadot.gov/blackout.

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