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All about Michigan License Plates and Recent Digitalization

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As long as they meet the state’s vehicle code, license plate frames are legal in Michigan. That means no part of the information on the license plate can be hidden. A civil infraction is made when this law is broken. However, Michigan law doesn’t stop you from putting a frame or cover around your license plate as long as the information on the plate is still clear. Keep this simple rule in mind when looking for a license plate frame, so you don’t end up breaking the law. This blog is all about Michigan license plates and more updates on it going all digital. 

Standard Michigan license plates 

Michigan license plate

Source: Michigan.gov

Pure Michigan 

The standard license plate is the Pure Michigan plate, which came out in 2013. 

Mackinac Bridge 

The Mackinac Bridge Plate is the newest graphic license plate, and it gives Michigan residents a way to show their state pride. The Mackinac Bridge is one of Michigan’s most famous landmarks, and it’s right in the middle of this beautiful plate. 

Water-Winter Wonderland 

By buying a Water-Winter Wonderland license plate, you can take a trip down memory lane and celebrate the beauty of Michigan in all four seasons. The Water-Winter Wonderland plate was made for the first time in 1965 and will be made again starting in 2021. It is a replacement for the Water Wonderland plate, which was around 1954 to 1964. 

Permanent Trailer 

A permanent, non-expiring trailer plate is given to trailers and trailer coaches based on how much they weigh. Unfortunately, plates for trailers can’t be given to other people, and you have to buy them at a Secretary of State’s office. 

What are the rules for license plate frames in Michigan? 

According to section 257.225 of Michigan’s vehicle code, “a person shall not attach a name plate, insignia, or advertising device to a registration plate in a way that hides or partially hides the registration information.” So to avoid getting pulled over for breaking this law, don’t put any decorations on your license plate that might make it hard to read. 

Are Michigan license plates personalizable? 

State law in Michigan doesn’t stop you from adding a personal touch to your car with a license plate frame, but there are some rules. Even though this law doesn’t specifically mention license plate frames, it does discourage drivers from putting anything on their plates. Especially that covers any of the information, including the name of the state.  

How to order a license plate 

Using the right application, you can order plates through Online Services or by mail. You can order new license plates online or at a self-service station when you renew your tab. Normal plates cost $5 each. There are fees for registration and getting the plate personalized. 

What are the fines for license plate frames in Michigan? 

If a police officer gives you a ticket for hiding your license plate, it is a civil infraction. You can expect a stern warning or maybe even a ticket. If you get pulled over because your license plate cover or frame is wrong, fix it right away. 

Are license plate covers legal? 

Michigan lets you cover your license plate as long as your plate can still be seen. Covers that are dirty or have been tinted are against the law. 

Michigan roads

Digitalization of license plate 

Digital license plates are now legal in Michigan. Making it the third state to approve digital license plates, after California in 2018 and Arizona in 2019. They are easy to use and can be changed, but they are not cheap. Reviver, a California company, makes the RPlate and RPlate Pro for all three states. The company says that 10 more states are also in the process of approving the units. 

Benefits of a digital plate 

  • The plate can be changed between light and dark modes. There’s room at the bottom of the rectangle for a personalized banner message.  
  • Reviver app makes it easy to keep your registration up to date.  
  • The plate can send out public safety messages, such as “Amber Alerts.”  
  • The RPlate Pro can track a vehicle. It has GPS and telematics transponders, so it can find a vehicle that is lost in a parking lot or that has been stolen. In addition, because the Pro version is made for fleets, its telematics transponder can do things like track mileage. 

Are digital license plates in Michigan pricey? 

For all of that, the price is, well, pricey. Both plates require subscription plans that are much more expensive than getting new stickers for a dumb piece of aluminum. Subscribers can get the battery-powered RPlate for $215.40 per year, which adds up to $861.60 over four years, or for $19.95 per month, which adds up to $957.60 over four years.  

Since the RPlate Pro is hardwired into the car, a subscriber pays $275.40 per year. This adds up to $1,101.60 after four years, or $24.95 per month, which adds up to $1,197.60 after four years. Prices can also change, which subscribers should know. For example, one plan for the RPlate and its five-year replaceable battery cost $861.60 for three years instead of four, but it could be had for as little as $719 for four years with a $499 upfront payment. 

Neville Boston, one of the co-founders, told C/D in the same conversation two years ago, “You own the plate, but the state owns the message and the plate number. So think of it as a digital display until it’s activated and set up, at which point it becomes a compliance tool.” Also, if a Reviver plate isn’t renewed on time, it will say “INVALID” until the owner of the vehicle gets caught up. 

The plates are “now available in Woodbury, Garfield, Cascade, Ann Arbor, Benton, Laporte, Saginaw, Lockport, Novi, Belmont, and Lansing.” Reviver’s Auto Dealership Partner Program promises “substantial revenue share opportunities from each plate sale.” This is why a dealer salesperson might try to sell you pixelated plates. 

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