Ky. has a wide variety of specialty license plates

ssloan@herald-leader.comApril 15, 2013 

If it seems as if you see a lot of variety in Kentucky's license plates, it's because you do.

Beyond the standard "Unbridled Spirit" and "In God We Trust" plates, Kentucky offers dozen of other license plates promoting everything from military service and a love of nature to coal and chiropractors.

But what's the most popular? The Herald-Leader asked the state Transportation Cabinet, which offered these statistics on the 3.79 million license plates on the road.

STANDARD PLATES

Standard plates, including those for motorcycles and the disabled, adorn 76 percent of the vehicles on the state's roadways.

The "In God We Trust" plate, an alternative to the "Unbridled Spirit" standard tag, generated lots of headlines, but it accounts for only 6 percent of all plates.

OTHER PLATES

License plates noting military service account for less than 2 percent of state license plates.

Non-military special registrations include everything from law enforcement and trailers to farm vehicles and state legislators. Those account for nearly 15 percent of all plates.

SPECIALTY PLATES

This increasingly common category began in 1995 and includes optional plates you may purchase to proclaim your favorite university, charity and so on.

Portions of the price go to support the organizations, although those fees are often optional. Still, they can be money makers for the organizations.

Government records show the Friends of Coal Kentucky organization received $212,196 for the state's 2012 fiscal year.

Top specialty plates

So what's the most popular among those promoting charities or causes? Here and on Page A2 is a list of the top 10, which includes any personalized versions of the plates, too.

Nature: 46,564

About: This series of three plates showing a butterfly, cardinal or wildcat supports the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund, which is administered by its 12-person board and the state Department for Natural Resources.

Costs: $31 initial, $31 renewal. Of the fees, $10 goes to the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund. The donation is not optional.

Friends of Coal: 43,003

About: This black plate, taking its appearance from the natural resource, supports Friends of Coal Kentucky. (There are an additional 2,395 Friends of Coal motorcycle plates.)

Costs: $44 initial, $31 renewal. Includes an optional $10 donation to the organization.

University of Kentucky: 25,533

About: The plate supports the university's scholarship fund.

Costs: $56 initial, $31 renewal. Of the fees, $10 goes to the university. The donation is not optional.

Kentucky Horse Council: 24,359

About: The plate supports the Kentucky Horse Council.

Costs: $44 initial, $26 renewal. Includes an optional $10 donation to the organization from initial plates and $5 from renewed plates.

Breast cancer awareness: 24,057

About: Supports the Kentucky Breast Cancer Research and Education Trust Fund, which is administered by the state Department for Public Health.

Costs: $44 initial, $31 renewal. Includes an optional $10 donation to the fund.

University of Louisville: 19,318

About: The plate supports the university's scholarship fund.

Costs: $56 initial, $31 renewal. Of the fees, $10 goes to the university. The donation is not optional.

Pets: 13,486

About: Featuring a dog and cat, the plate promotes spaying or neutering pets and supports programs for that which are administered by the Department of Agriculture.

Costs: $31 initial, $26 renewal. Of the fees, $10 from initial plates and $5 from renewed plates goes to the fund. The donation is not optional.

Sportsmen: 12,421

About: The plate supports the League of Kentucky Sportsmen, a group of hunting and fishing enthusiasts.

Costs: $44 initial, $31 renewal. Includes an optional $10 donation to the organization.

Law enforcement: 11,098

About: The plate supports the Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation.

Costs: $44 initial, $31 renewal. Of the fees, $10 goes to the organization. The donation is not optional.

'Share the Road': 8,102

About: This plate advocating bicycling and running supports Share the Road Kentucky.

Costs: $44 initial, $31 renewal. Includes an optional $10 donation to the organization.

Other specialty plates

Firefighters, 5,940: Limited to people associated with fire departments, supporting the Kentucky Firefighters Association.

State universities, 5,706: This group of individual plates shows logos of these state universities, with proceeds supporting their scholarship funds: Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University.

Kentucky Colonels, 5,699: Limited to current Kentucky Colonel members, supporting the organization.

Police, 5,471: Fraternal Order of Police supporting Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police.

Conservation, 5,303: Quail Unlimited has 3,155 plates, and Ducks Unlimited has 2,148.

Child victims, 5,095: Supports the Child Victims' Trust Fund administered by the attorney general's office.

Independent college, 4,674: This group of individual plates shows logos of these independent colleges, with proceeds supporting their scholarship funds: Alice Lloyd College, Asbury University, Bellarmine University, Berea College, Brescia University, Campbellsville University, Centre College, University of the Cumberlands, Georgetown College, Kentucky Christian University, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Lindsey Wilson College, Mid-Continent University, Midway College, University of Pikeville, St. Catharine College, Spalding University, Thomas More College, Transylvania University, Union College and the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities.

"Choose Life," 4,197: The anti-abortion plate supports the Family Foundation of Kentucky.

Masonic order, 3,855: Supports the Masonic Homes of Kentucky, which provides senior care.

Autism awareness, 3,626: Supports Families for Effective Autism Treatment.

Veterans, 2,505: I Support Veterans, supporting the state Department of Veterans Affairs. (There are an additional 321 motorcycle I Support Veterans plates.)

Zoo, 2,484: Supports Louisville Zoo.

Linemen, 1,861: Kentucky linemen supporting the Kentucky Lineman Association with funds going toward a community college training program for the utility workers.

Ryder Cup, 1,646: The international golfing event was in Louisville in 2008. The plate supports the Kentucky Sports Authority and Kentucky First Tee charity that supports golf education.

Keeneland, 1,266: Keeneland, supporting the Keeneland Foundation.

Lincoln, 1,047: Lincoln homestead honoring the recent bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth in Kentucky.

RARE SPECIALTY PLATES

Before a specialty license plate goes into production, the state requires organizations to submit the signatures of 900 people who pay $25 each in advance for a plate. That covers the costs of producing the plates. Once they're available, those 900 people receive a $25 credit when they order one, said Ainsley Snyder, registration branch manager of the state Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing.

But just because people pay $25 in advance doesn't mean they eventually buy the plate. A handful of specialty plates, including some created by law rather than by organizations' requests, have runs of less than 900. They include:

Emergency management, 703: Limited to members of local disaster and emergency services groups or volunteer rescue squads.

Amateur radio, 637: Limited to people with amateur radio licenses.

Kosair Children's Hospital, 560: Open to all.

Libraries, 556: Kentucky Library Association, open to all.

Dentists, 450: Kentucky Dental Association, open to all.

ROCK Cares, 231: The recently released plate proclaims "In God We Trust" and supports the foundation, which "exists to promote core American principles and values," according to its website. The funds support those harmed by sexual exploitation.

Juvenile diabetes, 218: Supports the Kentucky chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Street rods, 107: Limited to those owning such vehicles.

Chiropractors, 100: Kentucky Chiropractic Association, open to all.

LEARN MORE

To learn more about license plates available for purchase, to Mvl.ky.gov or inquire at your county clerk's office.

Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz.

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