Digital Inspection Sticker Program Is Underway
Since my youth, I have been fascinated by license plates. While traveling, it’s always a delight to track the unique plates and their states. In recent weeks, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder unveiled ten new plates featuring distinct images representing New York State’s ten regions. “Every region of our state has something unique and interesting about it, and we are happy to celebrate that uniqueness by making these new license plates available for New York drivers,” said Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.
“These also allow drivers to put their own unique touch on their vehicles and show pride for the place [in which] they live.” The announcements were conducted separately in each of these areas. These plates join others, like “Discover Queens,” which was unveiled in July of 2005, giving an impressionistic rendering of the Unisphere.
The Finger Lakes regional license plate was revealed at Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva. The plate features an image of a hillside overlooking the western shore of Keuka Lake. A newly redesigned New York City regional license plate features an image of One World Trade Center and Lower Manhattan. The new Capital Region license plate was disclosed in West Capital Park in Albany. That plate features an image of the New York State Capitol building, with one of the reflecting pools at the Empire State Plaza in the foreground. The Commissioner says it is a testament to a capitol building whose design and construction took decades. “The original architect, Thomas Fuller, was fired in the beginning. He had just constructed a capitol building in Montreal, and the technology was changing. And so, they were bickering about what to do. So, Lieutenant Governor William Dorsheimer saved the day; he saved the day by bringing in Frederick Law Olmsted, HH Richardson, and Leopold Eidlitz, and they completed this most beautiful capitol we have here,” Schroeder explained.
Next, we have the new Western New York region license plate that was shown at Niagara Falls State Park. It comes as no surprise that the plate features an image of the world-famous waterfall. A new Central New York region license plate was displayed at the Landmark Theatre because the plate features an image of the iconic theatre, originally the Loew’s State Theatre and the largest in the city when it opened in 1928. The theatre has undergone extensive restorations and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The new Southern Tier plate was put out at the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship during the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, which is one of the most respected sports car races in North America. The newly redesigned North Country regional license plate depicts an image of a sailboat along the St. Lawrence River in front of the Thousand Islands Bridge. The Mohawk Valley regional license plate was exhibited at the Hyde Hall Covered Bridge at Glimmerglass State Park in Cooperstown, an image of which is featured on the plate. Meanwhile, the new Mid-Hudson regional license plate was divulged at the Walkway Over the Hudson in Highland. The Hudson River, with hills in the foreground and the background, is the feature for this regional plate. At that unveiling, the DMV also released a redesigned Buffalo Bills custom license plate and informed the public that updated versions of the Giants and Jets license plates will be introduced later this summer. “The Bills are proud to collaborate with the New York State DMV on this great initiative and we’re excited to offer our great fans another way to showcase their team pride year-round,” said Buffalo Bills EVP & Chief Operating Officer Ron Raccuia.
More locally, a newly redesigned New York City regional license plate features an image of One World Trade Center and Lower Manhattan. The new Long Island license plate was unveiled at the DMV’s Bethpage District Office featuring an image of the iconic Montauk lighthouse. There are a variety of other custom plates available, including an “Empire State Flower” plate with roses, or an “I Love NY Adventure” plate featuring a Niagara Falls scene. New York started rolling out new regular license plates in 2020, after an online competition to select New Yorkers’ favorite design. The blue and white “Excelsior” plates replaced the mustard yellow, “Empire Gold” plates that were distributed starting in 2010. The Excelsior plates display clusters of mini-New York landmarks, including Niagara Falls and the Statue of Liberty, with a yellow “Excelsior” across the bottom.
New York sets itself apart from states that use county-marked plates. Here, residents are free to choose plates that feature any region. The DMV plans to expand the range of regional plate designs going forward, releasing new concepts every two or three years. A bicentennial plate for the Erie Canal in 2025 is one such idea being floated.
In total, there are more than 200 custom license plates available from the DMV, representing branches of the military and veterans, counties and regions of New York State, professions, causes, sports teams, and more. Revenues from some of our cause plates support charities, such as the World Trade Center Memorial Scholarship Fund, Cure Childhood Cancer Research Fund, the Environmental Protection Fund, and the Life Pass It On Trust Fund. Custom plates may be ordered on the DMV website, by mail, or by calling the Custom Plates office at 518-402-4838. They are also available with the International Symbol of Access (ISA) for any registrant who qualifies.
Additionally, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has transitioned to print-on-demand vehicle inspection certificates. This program is part of the second phase of New York State’s new inspection sticker program, designed as part of a wider modernization of the department. Commissioner Schroeder stated that before the new sticker system was installed, the act of putting a sticker on an inspected vehicle was very paper intensive for licensed inspection stations. “Now it’s all beautifully computerized and it comes right out, including with the VIN number” and mileage information, along with a QR code linked to the vehicle’s inspection record all printed right on the sticker itself. The sticker color will continue to change from year to year to provide additional information about whether a vehicle’s inspection is up to date. More than 100,000 inspections have been conducted since the new sticker system was put in place earlier this year, a milestone achievement. The end of the rollout is expected by late 2024. “We are very pleased with how the transition to this new inspection system has gone so far, and we look forward to that continuing,” said Commissioner Schroeder. “These print-on-demand stickers will go a long way toward reducing and even preventing potential fraud and helping law enforcement get better information about the vehicles they see every day on New York’s roads. This new process will enable inspection stations to print stickers right on their premises, rather than having to wait for a supply of stickers to arrive from DMV,” said Commissioner Schroeder. “This change is part of our efforts to transform the DMV’s customer service.” DMV is working with partners in law enforcement and local government to inform them about the new stickers so that they recognize them as legal and valid. Law enforcement will be able to confirm the validity of the certificate being displayed based on the information displayed on the sticker.
However, this is not the only change in the department. The DMV is going through a transformation and a tech redesign because there are some legacy lines that go back to Governor Nelson Rockefeller. The department is upgrading those data lines. The next big technological change later this year is for the DMV to offer digital driver licenses. The new technology, now only available in a handful of states, should put a driver license in New Yorkers’ smartphones for matters of easier access, by the Fall.
Kew Gardens Hills residents should also be aware that the temporary DMV office first opened in 2020 following the passage of the ‘Green Light Law’ has been shuttered. Three other conveniently located offices, less than ten miles from Queens College, remain open at College Point, Jamaica, and Springfield Gardens. The average customer who visits one of these locations is in and out in less than 30 minutes. “The decision to close the Queens College location was made after a lot of careful consideration,” said Commissioner Schroeder. “It was never intended to be a permanent location and we kept it open for as long as we felt it was needed to assist New Yorkers through the implementation of the Green Light Law and our reopening after COVID. I am proud to say that we are processing customer transactions at our other offices in record time with plenty of capacity for customers. Additionally, we’ve significantly increased the number of transactions that can be done online to make it as convenient as possible for our customers.”
By Shabsie Saphirstein