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Quiz: Do you know the state by its license plate?

  • Quiz: Do you know the state by its license plate?

    Back in 1893, France was the first country to introduce a license plate, also known as a registration plate. In 1901, New York became the first state in this country to make license plates mandatory.

    A vehicle’s license plate has evolved a great deal since the French first started numbering them sequentially, starting at one. In this country, each of the 50 states and Washington D.C. has its own license plate, determined carefully by committees and having specific designs, letters, and layouts often based on the state’s history, topography, geographical location, and cultural phenomena.

    Even if you have not traveled around the United States much, you likely have experienced the time suck of sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. One way to make that downtime more enjoyable is to test yourself on license plates from different states.

    If you’ve been observant, you can’t have helped but notice the various symbols and designs on license plates from states all over the country, aside from the obvious differences in colors and the use of letters and numbers. Take this quiz to put your observation and memorization skills to the test and see if you recognize the plates from all 50 states. While you may find that some popular states will be easier to guess based on their license plates, find out if you're a pro who can identify the more obscure ones.

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  • Clue #1

    This Midwestern state introduced a bluebird license plate in 2008 that was replaced by a new bicentennial design. The reason? The state Legislature wanted to commemorate and celebrate 200 years of statehood for the state’s bicentennial that falls on Aug. 10, 2021. In 2016, the state’s Department of Revenue ordered a reissue of state license plates with the new design, which was determined by the License Plate Design Advisory Committee.

  • Answer #1: Missouri

    - Year this design went into effect: 2018
    - State slogan: Bicentennial

  • Clue #2

    This Midwest state has a light blue plate with part of the state seal in the background in white. It also includes the state’s entire name printed in capital letters at the top of the plate in serif type. In 2018, the state’s Department of Revenue changed the way it manufactured license plates. It switched from embossed characters on the plates to digitally printing them, which proved faster and more convenient for motorists. According to The New York Times, in October 2018, this state recalled 731 license plates with the letter combination of JAP. The Japanese American community complained it was a racial slur.

  • Answer #2: Kansas

    - Year this design went into effect: 2007
    - State slogan: None

  • Clue #3

    This West Coast state began issuing permanent license plates in 1914 made from porcelain with white lettering on a red background. Five decades later, in the 1960s, the state’s license plates were black with chrome yellow characters. More recently, the state Department of Motor Vehicles introduced plates with a white background that included its website address on the bottom in a basic red script.

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  • Answer #3: California

    - Year this design went into effect: 2011
    - State slogan: None

  • Clue #4

    This state is the second-largest in the United States. Its current plate is black and white with a star in the upper left corner that has the same color scheme. The license plate also includes a small black outline of the state printed between three letters and four numbers. The state switched from a colorful red, white, and blue design in 2009 to a simple black and white design, as many motorists complained that the previous colors did not go well with their vehicles.

  • Answer #4: Texas

    - Year this design went into effect: 2012
    - State slogan: The Lone Star State

  • Clue #5

    State prison inmates make 10,000 license plates every day in this Midwestern state. The plate features the county of the vehicle’s registration at the bottom and the letters and numbers are in black against a white background with the top of the plate covered in a light blue background with the state’s name and skyline in white. In 2019, the state debuted the blackout license plate, which, as the name suggests, is black with white letters and numbers.

  • Answer #5: Iowa

    - Year this design went into effect: 2018
    - State slogan: None

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