Personalized License Plate Program Turns 40 On Saturday

Personalized License Plate Program Turns 40 On Saturday

California Department of Motor Vehicles
Media Relations Office
2415 First Avenue, MS F-122
Sacramento, CA 95818
Contact: DMV Public Affairs

August 19, 2010

Sacramento – Forty years ago this Saturday, Governor Ronald Reagan signed legislation authorizing California to issue Environmental License Plates on Aug. 21, 1970.

"Since 1970 when California issued the first personalized plate with the word "AMIGO," these plates have become part of the rich California history," said DMV Director, George Valverde. "These plates are also an invaluable contribution to our state's tradition of environmental conservation and protection."

Based on the success of the 1970 Environmental License Plate Program, the state expanded on the concept of using license plates to fund special programs, such as the California Arts Council, the Coastal Commission, and various organizations that comprise California's 11 special interest license plates.

California charges $38 annually to renew the personalized plates ($49 the first year). Californians have expressed themselves on 1,030,000 registered motor vehicles.

California's specialty plate program has generated approximately $630 million for a wide range of causes. Special Interest License Plates, such as the Arts, Kids, Coastal, Lake Tahoe, and those supporting Veterans' Organizations, can also be personalized. There are additional fees required to issue these types of plates which goes toward their causes. Fees that California motorists pay for personalized plates go to a dedicated state fund that helps fight pollution caused by motor vehicles.

California motorists may order personalized plates online ( or at DMV offices.

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Don’t Stand In Line, Go Online! Doing business with the DMV has never been easier. The DMV offers an array of services to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through its Web site (, including online appointments for written and drive tests; vehicle registration and driver license renewals, selection of personalized license plates, changes of address and payment of fees via secure debit transactions. Customers can also effect transactions by calling DMV customer service at (800) 777-0133.

DMV is a department under the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, which is under the direction of Secretary Dale E. Bonner. The DMV licenses drivers; maintains driving records; registers and tracks official ownership of vehicles and vessels; investigates auto and identity-related fraud; and licenses car dealers, driving schools, and traffic violator schools.  


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