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You Ask, We Answer: Why are some Wisconsin license plates illegible?

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Deteriorating License Plate 03-05-2021

EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - License plates are critical for identifying who owns a vehicle, but not all of them are in tip-top shape.

In Friday's You Ask, We Answer, several viewers asked, "Why are some Wisconsin license plates illegible?"

Wisconsin DMV Administrator Kristina Boardman said if a license plate or its numbers are fading, chipping or deteriorating, it's usually due to prolonged exposure to weather and snow.

The metal plates have numbers and letters stamped into them and a clear sheeting goes over the top.

She said lots of testing is done to ensure the plates last for at least five years, and so they do not plan to change the process to make them.

"We do replace them within that five-year warranty period," Boardman said.  "So if there is something weird that happens and we find that it's not eligible in that five-year period, that's on us.  That's a production flaw and so we will replace that free of charge.  Beyond that point, it's currently the motorist's responsibility to make sure their plate remains legible."

If you do have illegible license plates, Boardman said you could get pulled over and receive a ticket.

However, she said the process to replace them online is easy.

DMV officials say there were 48,923 plate replacements in 2020 and 4.8 million plate renewals in 2020 in the state.

If you have a question you'd like answered, you can submit it to our email at, social media or on our website.

You Ask We Answer

At News 18 we don't just tell you the news, we listen to you too. That is why we created "You Ask, We Answer."

Katrina Lim

Katrina Lim joined the News 18 team in August 2019 as a multimedia journalist. She was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey but has lived in all time zones of the contiguous U.S.A.

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