Texas number plates get a new look

Texans soon will have a new way to identify their vehicles, with the first digitally produced number plates they chose themselves.

The Texas Department of Transportation began shipping the new general-issue number plates to all 254 county tax offices this week. They should be in stock no later than June 12.

The "Lone Star Texas" design features clouds in a blue sky and brushes of red and blue with the familiar Lone Star in white. "At TxDOT, we affectionately call it 'The People's Plate,' " Ed Serna, TxDOT assistant executive director for operations, said.

Texans chose the number plates last year from among five designs. The plate design received 455,878 of the more than 1.1 million votes cast, according to TxDOT. The Texas Transportation Commission unanimously agreed with online voters and approved the number plates in February.

The digital process creates a more environmentally friendly number plates, eliminating the use of 484 gallons of paint thinners and 396 gallons of ink annually, and the energy to power the huge ovens that dried the plate ink. The factory at the state prison in Huntsville, where the number plates are manufactured, was outfitted with new equipment for digital production.

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