PennDOT Is Eliminating License Plate Registration Stickers

Pennsylvania drivers will no longer be required to put stickers on their license plates starting next year. PennDOT says it will save $3.1 million.

Pennsylvania sample license plate

Say goodbye to license plate registration stickers.

Well, if you’re in Pennsylvania. PennDOT announced earlier this week it was eliminating registration stickers at the end the year, saving about $3.1 million in the process. Drivers will be able to register their cars online and print out their registrations forms.

“Without the registration sticker, the future of Pennsylvania vehicle owners certainly looks brighter with respect to the registration renewal process,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said in a release. “By further leveraging technology, we can make renewing your vehicle’s registration and having an immediate, permanent registration credential in hand as easy as spending a few minutes online from your home computer.”

The last license plate registration sticker will be issued on December 30th of this year. The day after, drivers will no longer be required to display their registration sticker in the corner of their license plate. Starting on January 1st of next year, drivers who renew their car’s registration will be able to print out a copy — lessening the need for PennDOT to mail drivers registration cards.

Forty percent of Pennsylvania drivers currently renew their registrations online. PennDOT says it will save $2 million in mailing costs by offering the ability to print out registration cards; in the future, the agency says it plans to allow drivers to keep copies of their registration cars on their smart phones to eliminate the need for even printing out a copy. Getting rid of registration stickers will save another million bucks.

The elimination of registration stickers by 2017 was part of 2013’s Act 89. PennDOT says law enforcement officers have “real-time electronic access to PennDOT’s database from their patrol vehicles” in order to check registrations; previously, stickers could be stolen, placed on a different plate, et cetera.

In the early 2000s, PennDOT made drivers in Philadelphia put a sticker in their windows in order to combat registration sticker theft. The agency said the problem was biggest in the Philadelphia area. The program cut license plate thefts, but was widely hated by Philadelphians — it branded Philly residents with a scarlet, um, sticker — and was eliminated in 2002. (“I refuse to put it on,” then-State Sen. Vince Fumo told the Inquirer. “I still keep it in my glove box. PennDot fell flat on its face with their experiment.”)

PennDOT says it wants to use the savings from the program to help police departments invest in license plate reader technology. One license plate reader costs about $18,000.

“License plate reader technology allows a single law enforcement officer to quickly, accurately and reliably check the status of thousands of license plates on a single shift using information from PennDOT’s registration database to determine if there are expired registrations or lack of insurance for the vehicle,” Richards said. “It is a true force multiplier.”

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