History Of Oklahoma License Plates
Source: Oklahoma Tax Commission
Motor Vehicle Division
2002 Motor License Agent School
The City of Oklahoma City becomes the birthplace of the parking meter. Oklahoma
City first realizes revenue possibilities, not only in parking meters, but
also in the tagging of horseless carriages, getting a two year
jump on the State of Oklahoma.
The motor car's future looked so promising, the state legislature took over
exclusive taxing rights and empowered its fledgling. Department of Highways,
now the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, to issue two state license
tags for each vehicle along with its duties of making the roads more inviting
to this new fangled contraption. The Highway Department remained in charge
of motor vehicle licensing for the next 16 years, using a different color
scheme every year. This year also saw the state adopt green and white as
the states official colors.
|1924||Oklahomans were sporting the states official colors, white on green.|
Highway Department settles on its traditional road-equipment-yellow and
black plate colors.
of automobiles reached its peak in Oklahoma. There were three types of vehicle
registrations: passenger vehicles (516,322), commercial trucks (60,390)
and farm tractors (26,242). A grand total of 602,954 vehicles were registered.
three types of registration decreased.
Under the leadership of newly elected Governor Alfalfa Bill
Murray, the Oklahoma Tax Commission was created. A motor vehicle registration
division was formed to administer motor vehicle licensing laws and supervise
the statewide distribution of license plates through 130 tag agents.
Registration of vehicles in Oklahoma decreased to its lowest point.
trailer plates were issued for the first time.
buses and publicly owned vehicles are added to the growing list of different
types of registrations.
now, there were 543,775 registered vehicles! The first plates designed by
the new commission carried the name OKLAHOMA spelled out for
the first time. The previous tags carried only the four-letter OKLA
Tractor registrations were sold for the first time.
House trailer registrations were sold for the first time.
Saw a radical redesign, using a letter of the alphabet for the first time,
along with three black numbers on a silver background. The 1939 tag was
roundly criticized. The state and date read only OK-39 and was confusing
to people outside Oklahoma. Furthermore, the plate was shorter than previous
models and the attaching holds didnt fit!
stifle the latter annoyance, the legislature decreed that, beginning in
1940, state license plates would henceforth be standardized at 12 inches
long and 6 inches wide, where they remain today. For even better identification,
the states name was lengthened to OKLA and (for those in the know) the numbers
showed what county the vehicle was from. All car tags sold in the county
with the highest population would begin with the number 1, the second highest
with number 2, and continue on down through all 77 counties as per the latest
federal census figures.
Farm truck, farm trailer, Intra-city bus and private school bus registrations were sold for the first time.
state saw a decrease in registration for the next few years. This decrease
was attributed to the lack of new cars, as production was stopped in 1942.
The average cost of an automobile registration also reflected a decrease.
This was also attributed to new cars being taken off the market.
House trailers and Intra-city buses show an increase. This was attributed to the use of house trailers as housing and the use of buses for public transportation.
Farm and industrial tractors and farm trailers were no longer registered.
innovation was interrupted by the war-caused steel shortage. Being unable
to supply metal plates, the commission issued its one and only windshield
sticker license, similar to todays safety inspection decal. The total
number of vehicles registered decreased. The decrease in automobile registrations
was attributed to old cars being taken out of use.
of the steel situation, the state legislature and the Tax Commission cut
the metal demand in half the next year, by issuing only one license plate
per vehicle. Fears that only one license tag would hamper vehicle identification
proved groundless. The single plate remains in effect today.
M.C. (Mike) Connors, head of the commissions Motor Vehicle Registration Division during the wars years is credited with the one-tag policy saving the state millions of dollars in production costs. Tag buyers also saved money, since they only had to purchase one tag for their automobile.
Oklahoma has the distinction of Mr. Connors introduction of reciprocity. During this time in history, commercial trucks were required to purchase a tag in each state through which it traveled. Needless to say, this was quite expensive and time consuming to truckers. He developed the implementation of reciprocity. The idea behind it was that a trucker could pay one fee and travel throughout the United States.
Because this idea worked so well and was nationally recognized, President Harry S. Truman sent Mr. Connors to Europe to form a reciprocity Agreement between European Powers. Mr. Connors became known as the Father of Reciprocity.
base of the registration of automobiles was raised to $19.00 on the first
$600.00 of the factory delivered price. For each additional $100.00, or
fraction thereof, an additional $1.50 was added.
Although the automobile fee and number of licenses increased, collections were less than the previous year.
cars were once again available, causing an increase in collections.
next interruption came in 1947, when tag buyers received only a small metal
tab bearing the number 47, which was fastened to the corner of the previous
years plate. This system was abandoned after that one year.
Mr. Connors went on to become Secretary Member of the Tax Commission from January 27, 1947 until April 3, 1974.
A special rate for Disabled American Veterans was established, for two vehicles a year.
and Intra-city bus tags were combined and issued a BUS tag.
Taxicab license plates were issued for the first time.
and Overweight permits were collected for the first time.
In transit tags were sold for the first time.
1955 through 1962, every Sooner motorist was a mobile tourism promoter,
his license tag inviting all who saw it to VISIT OKLAHOMA. In
1955, Oklahoma hit the million mark registering 1,051,668 vehicles!
trailers were registered for the first time.
Mobilized machinery was registered for the first time.
the time all Oklahomans became expert at telling what county all other cars
came from, the 1960 census forced many counties to switch identification
numbers, as their population ranking went up or down.
Legislation provided for the first special license plate. Amateur Radio operators could order two plates to place on the same vehicle, displaying their radio call sign.
invitation to VISIT OKLAHOMA would be dropped, as a new tag design would
call for a more specific county designation.
put an end to the confusion caused by the census takers, beginning with
the 1963 plates, the first two numerical characters were replaced with the
two letters of the alphabet most clearly indicating the name of the county.
Thus, tags bought in Adair County began with AD; Alfalfa County AL;
Atoka County AT, etc. Since the plates accommodated only four numbers,
in addition to the two-letter prefix, this system created a bit of a problem
for those counties needing more than 9,999 tags. There were not enough combinations
to serve the two largest counties (Oklahoma and Tulsa). Oklahoma County
was assigned additional prefixes beginning with X and Y. Tulsa County was
assigned a prefix beginning with Z.
IS OK first adorned license plates in 1967.
For Ten dollars ($10.00) plus registration fee, Oklahomans could order a personalized tag to be displayed on their vehicles. These plates were available to any person in a combination of numbers of letters from one (1) to a maximum of seven (7). The message on a personalized plate must always be in good taste and cannot be in conflict with any valid license plate.
The state began alternating tag colors between Oklahoma State University (OSU) and the University of Oklahoma (OU), with OUs red and white colors being displayed first.
were 80,000 more vehicles registered than in 1967. The overall revenue was
up by 6.6 million dollars, the greatest 1 year increase in history. Passenger
automobiles accounted for slightly over 66% of the increase.
The OSU colors (orange and black) were displayed. Colorful in the right setting, they were criticized as being hideous and bad taste for an Oklahoma tag.
was up by 6.5 million dollars again this year.
The OU colors (red and white) were used again and were considered acceptable by patrons and fans of the University of Oklahoma.
legislative session decreed that school colors would never be used again!
Tags reverted to the official state colors of green and white and all Oklahomans
license plate factory at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary was destroyed by
fire in the summer of 1973, preventing the production of vehicle license
plates for 1974. With well over two million vehicles to be licensed and
not enough time to negotiate a delivery commitment from private firms, the
vehicle registration division of the Oklahoma Tax Commission designed a
plastic validation sticker to be issued in lieu of regular metal license
plates for 1974.
Along with the self sticking tabs, some 400,000 new metal plates were obtained from a private factory for use on new vehicles and those from out-of-state needing their first Oklahoma tag. Except for a few plates, these new tags were stamped 1973 and required attachment of the 1974 validation tab.
the prison license plate factory was still unable to produce 1975 plates,
a private firm was able to do the job and all Oklahoma vehicles were issued
regular full-size metal license tags for 1975.
November 15, 1977, the state initiated a mail order vehicle registration
notification program. Vehicle owners now had the option of renewing by mail.
was passed providing that all automobiles and farm trucks were to be registered
on a staggered monthly system, to distribute the work of registering automobile
and farm trucks as uniformly and expeditiously as practical throughout the
calendar year. Prior to this legislative change, all vehicle registrations
expired in December.
for auto and farm trucks covered more than 12 months, because of the implementation
of the staggered registration system. Vehicles were initially licensed for
more or less than 12 months to set up the system. Those registrations issued
for less than 12 months were later registered for 12 months extending into
1980, the staggered registration system for automobiles and farm trucks
was in full operation, wherein an equal number of registrations expired
in each month from February through November, with December and January
reserved for registration of those types of vehicles which continued to
be licensed on a calendar year basis.
On January 1, 1980, legislation was passed providing for the issuance of a five (5) year plate. The plate was to have a white reflexive background, Oklahoma is OK in green letters across the top of the plate, with green letters and numerals. Automobile and farm truck license plates were issued in 1980 with a decal in the upper left-hand corner showing the month of expiration and an expiration date of 81. These tags were to be updated with a decal yearly for the next four years.
was brought about with the introduction of Oklahomas first graphic
license plate. The tag had a white reflexive background, Oklahoma
is OK in green letters across the top of plate, with green letters
and numerals over a gold Sunbelt across the bottom of the plate. The license
plate was to remain with the vehicle for a period of five (5) years. A yearly
decal was to validate the license plate for each registration period.
Oklahomans now display two (2) types of valid license plates on their motor vehicles: Non-graphic as well as graphic.
July 1, 1984, legislation providing for five (5) year license plates was
amended. The five year plates were now to remain with the vehicle
until a replacement license plate was requested by the taxpayer. The extended
tenure of Five (5) Year Plates required new numbering/lettering
combinations with county designations.
statutes no longer required automobile (passenger or noncommercial) plates
to identify the county of registration. Due to the increased number of vehicles
registered in Oklahoma each year and the many possible prefix combinations
available for numbering license plates, the designation of county prefixes
was to be eventually phased out.
vehicles for the year totaled 3,068,022. Passenger vehicle registrations
increased by 688,736. This was attributed to a change in motor vehicle statutes
that required pickups to be registered as passenger vehicles, unless specifically
used for commercial or farm purposes.
was passed providing for Oklahomas second graphic license plate. The
new graphic plate was to have a white reflexive background with a new slogan
Oklahoma OK! across the top of the plate. OKLAHOMA
was to be printed in brown letters and OK! in tan letters. The
emblem appearing on Oklahomas state flag was to be displayed in the
center of the tag. Three green letters and numerals were to be printed on
each side of the emblem.
The new graphics were to be a part of all license plates issued after December 31, 1988. The Oklahoma Legislature provided that the Oklahoma Tax Commission may continue to issue license plates with the legend OKLAHOMA IS OK, until the inventory of such license plates was depleted.
With the issuance of Oklahomas second graphic plate, Oklahomans were displaying three (3) types of valid license plates on their motor vehicles.
Personalized Plates for motorcycles became available. The taxpayer was allowed 6 spaces to display the plate of is choice, as long as it did not conflict with any other plate.
Used Motor Vehicle Dealer plates and Commercial Trailer Receipts were issued for the first time.
was passed allowing special license plates for Pearl Harbor Survivor plates
and Purple Heart Recipient plates. Also, a vintage decal was to be issued
to allow the taxpayer to display an officially expired Oklahoma license
plate on a vintage vehicle. This decal was to be displayed on the front
Farm trailer license plates were sold for the first time. Private trailer plates were no longer available.
provided for 29 new types of special plates: One for each of the 24 state
supported universities and colleges and one for each of the 5 branches of
the Armed Forces.
was passed providing for Oklahomas third graphic license plate. This
plate was to have a white reflexive background with OKLAHOMA
in black letters across the top, the shield that appears on Oklahomas
state flag in the center and NATIVE AMERICA in red letters across
Legislation also provided for eight (8) new types of special plates: Round and Square Dance plates; Environmental Awareness plates; Iwo Jima License plates; Silver Star Recipient plates; Vietnam Veteran plates; D-Day Survivor plates; Distinguished Flying Cross plates; and Distinguished Service Medal plates. Additionally, legislation provided Special Official license plates for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
provided for nine (9) new types of special plates: Air National Guard plates,
Bronze Star Recipient plates, Fire Fighter plates, Korean War Veteran plates,
World War II Veteran plates, Forty-Fifth emblem plates for the Korean and
World War II Veteran plates, Municipal plates, Military Multi-Decoration
plates, and Wildlife Conservation plates.
provided for eleven (11) new types of special plates: Gold Star Parents;
Red Cross Volunteer; Masonic Fraternity; Oklahoma Military Academy Alumni;
Child Abuse Prevention; National Association For The Advancement Of Colored
People (NAACP); National Rifle Association (NRA); U.S. Olympic Committee
and Sooner State Games; Oklahoma History License Plates; Historical Route
66 (Mother Road); and Heart of The Heartland. Additionally, the option of
personalization on two (2) existing special plates; World War II Veteran
and Korean War Veteran was permitted.
Registration expiration for all special license plates was now to be on a staggered basis, with these exceptions: Legislative, Amateur Radio, Motorcycle and the Vintage Decals.
Volunteer Fire Departments organized pursuant to Section 592 of Title 18 of the Oklahoma Statutes were now entitled to a permanent tax exempt license plate. Legislation also provided special license plates vehicles owned by the Oklahoma Capitol Patrol and the Oklahoma Lake Patrol.
provided for twenty four new types of special plates: Bacone College; Balloonist;
Bartlesville Wesleyan College; Crime Victims Awareness; Emergency
Medical Technician; Fight Breast Cancer; Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College;
Mid-America Bible College; Military Multi-Decoration/Personalized; Natl
Education Center-Spartan School of Aeronautics; Oklahoma Baptist University;
Oklahoma Christian University of Science & Arts; Oklahoma City University;
Oral Roberts University; Order Of The Eastern Star; Phillips University;
Police Officer; Shriners Hospital For Burned & Crippled Children;
Southern Nazarene University; Southwestern College of Christian Ministries;
St Gregory College; The University of Tulsa; U.S. Air Force Association
and Veterans Of Foreign Wars.
provided for nine new types of special plates: Civil Air Patrol; Desert
Storm; Jaycees; Knights of Columbus; Military Reserve Units; Ninety Nines;
Oklahoma City Bombing Victims and Survivors and Oklahoma Safe Kids Association.
Non-Expiring Commercial Truck Tags were issued for the first time.
provided a plate specifically for wrecker/towing vehicles.
provided seven new types of special plates: Agricultural Awareness; Certified
Public Accountants; Combat Infantrymans Badge; Ducks Unlimited; Four-H
Club; Kiwanis International and Somalia Combat Veteran.
October 1, 2000, the non-commercial registration fee was changed to a year
based schedule, with five (5) different registration fees dependent upon
the registration year of the vehicle. The maximum fee is $91.00 and the
minimum fee is $10.00.
Legislation provided eight new types of special plates: Civil Emergency Management; Fraternal Order of Police; Hearing Impaired; Joint Service Commendation Medal; Oklahoma statehood Centennial; Police Chaplain; Retired Highway Patrol and Support Education.
of Low Speed Electric Vehicles may title and register their
vehicles in Oklahoma. These vehicles have a top speed of over 20 miles per
hour, but not greater than 25 miles per hour and must meet federal safety
provided ten new types of special plates: Oklahoma State Parks Supporter,
American Business Clubs, Merchant Marine, Civilian Conservation Corps, Rotarian,
Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, Boy Scouts of America, Humane Society,
Urban Forestry and Beautification, and Oklahoma Mustang Club.
Copyright October, 2002, OKtagagent.com