Specialty license plate sales spike in 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - Nebraska drivers chose to register 50,638 vehicles with specialty license plates in 2017 — more than doubling the amount of non-standard-issue plates on the road.

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Including personalized version of the standard-issue state plate, there are 26 ways for vehicle owners to show their support for a cause, an organization, even state or school pride.

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"I have a lot of friends that have the Husker one because I'm an alumni," said Andrea Lane sporting a Husker plate. "Our thing is, it's always better than being a number."

Lane is one of thousands in the metro ordering specialty plates, mostly because they didn't like the standard plate design.

"I got the plates because I wasn't thrilled with the design that was sent out," said Paula Wilson, who ordered a 'We Don't Coast' plate.

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"First of all, our license plates are pretty ugly — the standard plates; and I'm a Creighton grad, so that's why I got the Creighton plates," Kirt McAlpine said.

But just because the plate makes a statement, it doesn't necessarily mean the additional fee is going anywhere other than the the state's highway trust fund, or to the DMV.

"We get no financing out of this process for any of these message plates to pay for the lights here at the county," Sarpy County Treasurer Rich James said.

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The popularity of the specialty plates puts a strain on his DMV branch. 

"We spend a lot of time and labor putting those plates on the shelf, answering questions on the phone as to whether the plate is here," he said.

Five of the 26 plates do funnel monies to specific funds set up for causes or organizations.

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The full $5 fee for Military Honor and Choose Life plates goes directly toward the Veteran Cemetery Cash Fund and Health and Human Services Cash Fund, respectively. If you want a personalized plate in either design, then 25 percent of the $40 fee goes to the DMV.

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Regardless of whether or not it's personalized, 75 percent of the Native American Cultural Awareness & History plate fee — which is also $5 for numerical and $40 for personalized plates — benefits the Native American Scholarship & Leadership Fund

Conversely, 57 percent of the $70 fee for the Sesquicentennial plate, commemorating Nebraska's 150th year, goes to the Sesquicentennial Plate Proceeds Fund.

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