Virginia Commonwealth University

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New License Plates Promote Parks, God

March 27, 2011

By Kayla Wamsley
Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Want to show your support for the James River Park System? Or tell other people “Don’t Tread on Me”?

You’ll soon be able to do that on your license plate.

The General Assembly recently authorized six new special license plates for Virginia motorists:

  • “Don’t Tread on Me,” the slogan of the tea party movement
  • “In God We Trust,” the national motto
  • A plate to raise money for Friends of the James River Park
  • A similar plate to support the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • A plate celebrating the centennial of Fort Belvoir
  • A plate marking the bicentennial of the American War of 1812

Those plates will be added to the list of more than 200 special license plates available from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

“All special plates must be introduced by a legislator and approved by the General Assembly,” said Melanie Stokes, the public relations and media manager for the DMV.

Before the DMV creates a special license plate, it must receive 350 or more prepaid applications. (Under a new state law, that minimum order will rise to 450 for future plates.)

Virginia has two kinds of special license plates: revenue-sharing plates, in which a nonprofit group shares in the proceeds, and non-revenue-sharing plates, such as “In God We Trust” and “Don’t Tread on Me.”

According to the DMV website, non-revenue-sharing plates normally have an annual fee of $10, and revenue-sharing plates cost $25 dollars.

After the sale of 1,000 plates, the DMV shares $15 of the $25 fee with the organization affiliated with a revenue-sharing special plate. So the plates generate income for groups such as Friends of the James River Park. Motorists who buy such plates can get a charile tax deduction of up to $15.

Most and Least Popular Plates

The best-selling special license plate in 2010 in Virginia was “Wildlife Conservationist.” The least popular special plate was “United We Stand.”

Virginia has 90 plates that benefit colleges and universities, ranging from Auburn to West Virginia. In that category, Virginia Tech was the best seller: About 259,000 have Virginia Tech plates. Ferum College had the fewest plates sold with 1,335. Virginia Commonwealth University supporters displayed 17,565 license plates in 2010.

For more information on special license plates, visit

CNS reporter Kayla Wamsley produced this slideshow about Virginia’s special license plates.