California Amateur Radio License Plates

The following is an email received from the ARRL’s News and information from your Division Director and Section Manager mailing list.

There is a big issue going around California about the way DMV is now issuing call sign license plates. They are putting a space between the number and the suffix, for example, W6 ABC, rather than centering the call sign, for example, W6ABC. If you go back into the history of ham plates in California, you will find that they were issued with a space in them for a 5 character call sign and no space for a 6 character call sign. The space for a 5 character call sign went a way in the 70s or so when the blue and gold plates were issued. Now the space is back, why, who knows?

Anyway, here is a response from our division leadership. Do what you want about contacting your legislators about this. But, they ask that we wait before bombarding them with letters. We will be notified when it is time to start writing.

The following is the response from Vice Director Andy Oppel (N6AJO):

“This problem is being worked on a couple of levels, including by our lobbyist in Sacramento and by people who have connections with the DMV.

ARRL Pacific Division Director Bob Vallio, W6RGG, requests that you not start a letter writing or petition signing campaign just now. If it comes to that, we’ll let you know.

The story that is being passed around isn’t quite correct. The reality is that the DMV has been entering a space into the license plate number for ham plates in the registration system for years now. They do that so their computer system can distinguish between ham plates and vanity plates and thereby not apply the vanity plate fee to ham plates. But that fix for the computer billing problem creates another problem — when law enforcement runs your plate, they have to remember to ADD a space after the number or the plate comes back as “not on file”.
Apparently, some law enforcement agency (perhaps even federal) complained and the DMV reacted by issuing plates the same way the call signs appear in their computer system — with a space after the number.
Please forget the notion that the FCC will respond to this. The FCC doesn’t care about, nor do they have any jurisdiction over how a state issues ham license plates.

— Andy Oppel, N6AJO
ARRL Pacific Division Vice Director”

Please cooperate with Bob and Andy’s request so that we can present a united front to resolve this issue.