New Jersey license plates have had essentially the same look for about three decades.

But a proposed law that could add some color to the roadways, giving drivers the option to put a throwback license plate design on their vehicles, is a bit closer to becoming reality in the Garden State.

Introduced more than a year ago, legislation that would revive the yellow-on-blue license plate design available from the late 1970s through the early 1990s was advanced by a Senate committee this month.

"I would think that would be interesting to some people," said Jim Moini, a license plate collector and creator of njplates.moini.net. "I'm not sure how many people would spend extra money to get one."

Under the bill, drivers would have to pay $50 to secure a classic plate, and put out $10 annually as a renewal fee.

Jim Moini stands alongside a sample of his New Jersey license plate collection.
Jim Moini stands alongside a sample of his New Jersey license plate collection.
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The measure comes with a couple of its own exit ramps, in case the endeavor is too costly or there's not enough demand for the retro design. Design and production of the throwback plates wouldn't even have to begin until New Jersey receives a minimum of 500 applications for the plates, and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission would be allowed to pull the plug on the idea if the average cost per plate exceeds $50 in two consecutive fiscal years.

"They're probably not going to be able to get exactly the look of the 1980s blue plates, with the current technology," Moini said. "It's a completely different manufacturing process today."

Today's plates, featuring a yellow and white background, are printed flat with rounded numbers and letters, Moini noted. Plates produced in the 1980s featured embossed characters, and the characters had diagonal corners.

The bill calls for $25,000 in private money to offset the initial costs to launch the plates, including computer programming changes.

The measure was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee on Dec. 6 and sent to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The proposal has not seen any action in the New Jersey Assembly.

“New Jersey would not be the first state to bring back retro license plates,” said Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, a sponsor of the legislation. “Many states have already done this and they have found there to be great demand for them.”

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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