More License Plate Pride

A few folks, two of whom are named Cheryl, responded to my story which ran Saturday about special license plates. Here are their comments and answers to a few questions:

Hi Chris,

I got my plate when they came out about 3 years ago, I got number NP00575.
I looked thru all of them and found the one that I liked the best and it matched the truck I had then, lucky for me it matches the car I have now! But most important it supports our National Parks.
I do not mind the extra $$, it is worth it. I have a pretty common car and adding the plate has made it more noticeable and yes people do comment on it. I hike alot and so we see a lot of cars at the trailheads with National Park, State Park, and bike plates. I’m not sure how often the State changes our plates, but I remember when it was 10 years and longer, then the State got the newer ones with Mt Rainier and since then I swear they change it every 3 years? You should find that out! But I got really fed up with changing the plates and then trying to remember the new plate numbers! I think for an extra $$ you can keep your old plates EXCEPT if they are not the newer reflective ones. You should find that out too! I am from Gig Harbor.
Good luck with the story.

Cheryl, Gig Harbor
Cheryl –
According to a History of Vehicle Licensing (see below) posted on the Washington State Dept. of Licensing’s Web site, license plates representing Washington’s centennial were issued in 1987. These plates had a blue color scheme on a white background with “Washington” and “Centennial Celebration” in red. A rendition of Mount Rainier is in the background.

In 1990, Legislature passed a bill giving DOL the “sole discretion” to determine whether or not to create, design, or issue a special plate. The line “Centennial Celebration” was dropped from the license plate; otherwise, the license plates remained the same. I took a look outside the Kitsap Sun, and all the cars within view (none of which had specialty plates) had Mt. Rainier on them.

Also from the DOL Web site: You must replace your license plates every 7 years when you renew your vehicle tabs, because the reflective coating on the plates only has a 5-year guarantee. This coating helps law enforcement officers easily identify vehicles in poor weather conditions. Proper care of plates won’t prevent this coating from breaking down over time. … You may ask to keep your current license plate number on your replacement plates when you renew your tabs. Because this requires us to custom manufacture the license plate, there is an additional $20 fee to keep your current plate number.

Chris Henry, reporter


Hello Chris!

Our vehicles have the LEM plates because I am a surviving child of a police officer killed in the line of duty. My father was killed in Arizona, but I have lived in Washington since 1991, and I am very involved in local non-profits that provide support and service to police survivors, including both the state chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) and the Behind the Badge Foundation. As you likely are aware, Behind the Badge Foundation is a merger organization of the Washington State Law Enforcement
Memorial Foundation (which is the benefactor of LEM license plate proceeds) and the 10-99 Foundation.
I do think of my plates often, especially when I see other LEM plates. I am very proud to support our law enforcement.
I live in Bremerton!
Thank you.
Cheryl, Bremerton


Cheryl – My condolences of the loss of your father. The Law Enforcement Memorial is one of the top three most popular plates in Kitsap County.

Chris Henry, reporter


I got my elk plate first when they came out.. I have a 3 digit number so I got them very early. Elk hunting has been a huge part of our family since I was very little, The first time I went to elk camp I was 4, and my sister was 2. We never bought beef, the only red meat in our house was elk and venison. I still have never bought beef in the store. I got my plates 1: to support WDFW, 2: support a sport/ animal that we love and respect, 3: they didn’t have a steelhead one.
We got my wife’s plate about 4 years ago after we upgraded vehicles. We enjoy the outdoors, and wanted to support the National Parks.

Ryan Morse, Silverdale


History of License Plates in Washington State, courtesy Washington DOL

History of License Plates

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