"Here's a no-brainer for fiscally-distressed Governors: Sell more VANITY LICENSE PL8S, to raise new revenues that don't come from taxes or mandatory fees," said Stefan Lonce, author of the forthcoming book, LCNS2ROM - LICENSE TO ROAM: VANITY LICENSE PLATES AND THE GR8 STORIES THEY TELL (www.VanityPlatesBook.com).
Every state issues vanity license plates. American motorists have "vanitized" 9.3 million motor vehicles, according to the 2007 American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators - LCNS2ROM Vanity License Plates Survey; Virginia ranks first in vanity plates, followed by New Hampshire, Illinois, Nevada, and Montana.
The 46 states that charge annual vanity plate fees collectively raise about $177 million from those fees, which range from $5 in Iowa to $100 in the District of Columbia, excluding one-time application fees that some states charge. Vanity plates are profitable for states because departments of motor vehicles can process applications and manufacture the plates inexpensively.
According to Lonce, "Here are seven simple steps that states should take to sell more vanity license plates:
-Allow motorists to order vanity plates online (as 19 states do), and include a prominent link to the vanity plate page on DMV web site home pages;
-Train DMV personnel to ask motorists if they want personalized plates when they contact the DMV, by phone or in person, for other transactions;
-Product brochures and posters for DMV offices promoting vanity plates;
-Sell decorative 'souvenir' vanity plates, as Michigan and Wyoming do;
-Charge a maximum of $15 for the vanity plate application fee, which would cover DMV costs of manufacturing and screening new vanity plates;
-Offer vanity plate gift certificates, as Iowa, Texas, and Ontario do; and
-Increase demand for vanity plates by holding periodic contests, on DMV web sites, for the 'funniest,''most compelling,' or other categories of vanity plates, with the winners getting free plates."
"Vanity license plates are minimalist poetry in motion, and are fascinating and fun. By implementing my suggestions, states could raise more non-tax revenue, stimulate creativity, and make state government more entrepreneurial," Lonce Said