ABC 6 Investigates The Money Trail: License Plate Fees

Updated: 05/05/2014 10:46 PM
Created: 05/05/2014 7:18 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS) - When it comes to keeping your car up to speed, small fees here and there add up quickly.

"License plates, today it was just tabs and of course your insurance which is critical and of course maintenance,” said Carla Succio of Rochester.

"I usually pay about $49 or $45 just for the tabs and that's if your car is old,” said Vicky Rudolph of Rochester.

An expense often overlooked is the cost of buying your actual license plates. In Minnesota, you're required to pay for new license plates every seven years, which costs $6 for two plates.

"I just got another car, so it's going to cost me more than that because I got to buy plates for both cars,” said Rudolph.

Six bucks may not sound like a whole lot of money, but it adds up to more than $7 million a year for the state of Minnesota.

"How much more are we paying for the dual license plates," asked Succio.

We took that question to Bruce Gordon with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. "We haven't done those kinds of projections,” said Gordon.

He says the $7.1 million in license plate fees mostly pays for the manufacturing and distribution of the plates. But $300,000 of that goes to the Division of Driver and Vehicle Services.

"The $300,000 approximately each year would go back into administration costs,” said Gordon.

To find out what tax payers would save if the state eliminated the front plate, Gordon says that would require an estimate from the manufacturer. That kind of quote wouldn't be requested unless legislation ask for it.

"Well it has come up several time over the years,” said Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL) Rochester.

Representative Tina Liebling says the proposal for only requiring a single plate has never gotten traction. “Saving money is always good, but it's a balance of how much money are we saving. I assume it's not a whole lot of difference between one plate or two and then what is the tradeoff for that,” said Liebling.

Liebling says she's voted against this type of amendment in the past because law enforcement say they need both plates.

"Even for something as simple potentially as a gas drive off, we know that if there's only a single license plate it's easier for them to avoid camera potentially or not be able to be identified,” said Sheriff Dave Mueller, Olmsted County Sheriff’s Department.

Still some feel the state should look into cutting down the costs of license plate fees. For many Minnesotans pinching pennies, the checklist of fees really adds up.

"Well if it is cheaper, it would be easier,” said Rudolph.

"You know you have to do it and certainly you're going to do it to stay on the road,” said Succio.

As we reported, 19 states only require a single license plate. This doesn't include any of our neighboring states, most of them being in the South and East Coast.

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