Jan. 10, 2006 New license plates are brightening up the territory's vehicles, with more appearing on the roadways each day. Lawrence Olive, assistant director at the Motor Vehicle Bureau, said Tuesday that the bureau started issuing the plates in November.
"By law, we have to change them every seven years," Olive said.
He said the territory is switching to white plates that depict the three islands in blue with a sprig of the territorial flower-yellow cedar in the center and four different kinds of tropical fish, one in each corner.
The plates carry the slogan, "America's Caribbean."
"That's the slogan used by the Tourism Department," he said.
Olive is proud of the plate's design. No wonder — since he designed the new plates with the help of Mark Collidge of Motor Vehicle License Plate Co., the firm that manufactures the plates.
Olive said that when drivers get their vehicles inspected, they will have to turn in their old gold plates. "We have screwdrivers on hand," he added.
Olive said that if vehicle owners want a set of the new plates before their inspection date, they can exchange them early.
The new plates will not have the same combination of letters and numbers as the vehicle's old plates. Olive said the new plates' numbering system picks up where the old plates ended.
Olive said the new plates have been well received, with only a few people indicating they like the old ones better.
He also said that improvements are on the way at MVB.
For starters, the bureau is in the midst of networking all three islands together when it comes to registration and driver's license information.
Olive said that the bureau expects to adopt a bar-code system for driver's licenses similar to the one now used at motor vehicle bureaus on the mainland.
"By March, we should see a change," he said.
He said this means that if you get stopped by a police officer while driving, the officer can scan in your driver's license to determine if you are driving with a suspended license, even if your license is suspended on the mainland.
Olive also said that the bureau expects to make facility improvements on all three islands. He said a move is in the works to build a facility on St. Thomas' East End.
"That's where all the car dealers and most of the population are," he said.
On St. Croix, he said the bureau expects to move out of its trailers at the Police Department's Patrick Sweeney headquarters to a larger, more central location.
On St. John, he said the bureau is looking for land to build a more modern facility so it can move out of the trailers it now occupies. Olive added that that bureau officials want to move the facility out of Cruz Bay to ease traffic congestion.
"Better days are ahead for Motor Vehicle," he said.
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