Chapter 4501-27 License Plates

4501-27-01 License plate specifications.

(A) This rule contains the specifications for the manufacture of license plates for the state of Ohio.

(B) The license plate shall consist of a substrate of galvanized steel, with an application of white or white blended with another color retroreflective multi-year sheeting, which shall constitute the background color of the license plate. The color of the lettering and numbers and the design of the plate shall be designated by the director of public safety. The finished license plate shall contain any logo, inscription, or design feature prescribed by law and may contain any logo, inscription, or other design feature as designated by the director.

(C) The galvanized steel substrate shall have satisfactory strength while retaining flatness after embossing. It shall not crack or break when embossed with standard embossing dies used to manufacture license plates. The galvanized steel shall conform to ASTM A653, "Standard Specification for Steel Sheet, Zinc-Coated (Galvanized) or Zinc-Iron Alloy-Coated (Galvannealed) by the Hot-Dip Process," approved November 1, 2010 (ASTM A653/A653M-10); or approved June 1, 2007 (ASTM A653/A653M-07); or approved May 1, 2004 (ASTM A653/A653M-04a); or approved December 10, 1998 (ASTM A653/A653M-98a), and shall have a G-90 coating designation to retard corrosion and requiring no phosphate coating. The thickness of the galvanized steel shall be nineteen one-thousandths inch plus or minus three one-thousandths inch continuous galvanized, zinc chromated. The supplier of the steel shall warrant the substrate of the license plate for a minimum of four years. At the director's discretion, the director may require the manufacturer to provide a certification from an independent testing facility stating that the galvanized steel meets the standards as specified in this rule. ASTM standards are available from the "American Society for Testing and Materials, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania 19428, (610) 832-9500, web site: http://www.astm.org." ASTM standards incorporated by reference in this rule may be viewed at the "Ohio Department of Public Safety, Office of Legal Services, 1970 West Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43223."

(D) The retroreflective sheeting shall have sufficient adherence to the substrate to remain firmly attached during the license plate manufacturing process and for a minimum service life of four years. The supplier of the sheeting shall warrant the sheeting for a minimum of four years. At the director's discretion, the director may require the manufacturer to provide a certification from an independent testing facility stating that the sheeting meets the standards as specified in this rule.

(E) The photometric retroreflective performance values of the white sheeting, when new, shall be no less than fifty as described below:

Observation angle Incidence angle
0.2 -4 30
  50 (minimum) 20(minimum)

(Photometric retroreflective performance values are expressed as minimum candlepower/foot-candle/square foot of white retroreflective license plate sheeting. If the background color consists of white blended with another color these performance values apply only to the unblended white portion of the plate.)

Measurements shall be computed in accordance with standard photometric procedure as set forth in federal specification LS 300 C, "Sheeting and Tape, Reflective: Non-Exposed Lens," dated July 12, 1974, and as incorporated in ASTM D4956 , "Standard Specification for Retroreflective sheeting for Traffic Control," 1995, and shall be expressed as candlepower/foot-candle/square foot. The white retroreflective sheeting shall retain a minimum photometric retroreflective performance value of at least twenty-five candlepower/foot-candle/square foot rating at the end of four years under normal use and conditions on a passenger vehicle. In no case shall the minimum test using clean rear license plates be less than twenty-five candlepower/foot-candle/square foot.

(F) Except as otherwise provided in this rule, the dimensions of the license plate shall be twelve inches in width and six inches in height. The plate shall have bolt holes blanked with center-to-center spacing of seven inches, centered horizontally, and four and three-quarters inches, centered vertically.

(G) The dimensions of license plates for motorcycles, motorized bicycles, and any all-purpose vehicles required by statute to display a license plate shall be seven inches in width and four inches in height. The plate shall have bolt holes blanked with center-to-center spacing of five and three-fourths inches, centered horizontally, and two and three-fourths inches, centered vertically.

(H) The registrar of motor vehicles shall prepare and submit to the director for the director's approval detailed specifications for the materials and processes to be used in the manufacture of license plates. The specifications shall conform to all statutory provisions and this rule and shall include:

(1) The specific properties of the substrate, the reflective material, the ink or paint for the numerals and letters, and any other materials or processes necessary for the manufacture and distribution of each class of plates;

(2) The dimensions and the stroke-width of the numerals and letters for each class of plates;

(3) The service life of each class of plates;

(4) The series numbers for each class of plates; and

(5) Any other specifications necessary for the manufacture, packaging, storage, and distribution of the plates.

(I) If it is technologically practical to do so, the license plate may contain graphic symbols showing the date of expiration and the county of registration name or number in lieu of a validation sticker or county identification sticker.

(J) The director shall review the specifications submitted by the registrar and shall approve or modify them or return them to the registrar with instructions to revise and resubmit them. Specifications modified or approved by the director shall be returned to the registrar with instructions to order the manufacture of license plates in such quantities as the registrar determines are necessary to meet motor vehicle registration requirements.

Effective: 10/22/2011
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 06/14/2011 and 03/10/2016
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: R.C. 4503.22
Rule Amplifies: R.C. 4503.22
Prior Effective Dates: 7/1/76, 2/13/81, 10/16/82, 2/9/87, 2/12/93, 6/13/96, 7/16/01, 1/15/04

4501-27-02 License plate service life specifications.

(A) A person who is the owner or operator of a motor vehicle may continue to display a license plate issued to that vehicle under sections 4503.19 and 4503.191 of the Revised Code until the license plate is lost, mutilated, or destroyed; becomes illegible; loses its reflectivity; or is declared obsolete under this rule, provided that the plate also displays a current and valid validation sticker and county identification sticker.

(B) No person who is the owner or operator of a motor vehicle shall display a license plate issued to a vehicle under sections 4503.19 and 4503.191 of the Revised Code if the license plate is mutilated or destroyed, becomes illegible, loses its reflectivity, or is declared obsolete under this rule.

(C) As used in this rule:

(1) "Becomes illegible" means that any feature of the license plate is difficult or impossible to read from a reasonable distance because the feature is damaged, deteriorated, faded, or obscured in any significant way;

(2) "Loses its reflectivity" means that the retroreflectivity becomes less than the minimum of twenty-five candlepower/per foot-candle/square foot as specified and as measured in accordance with rule 4501-27-01 of the Administrative Code.

(D) The owner of a motor vehicle for which a license plate is lost, mutilated, or destroyed; becomes illegible; or loses its reflectivity may apply for a duplicate thereof or new license plates pursuant to section 4503.19 of the Revised Code.

(E) An owner who wishes to renew the registration of a motor vehicle for which a license plate has been declared obsolete under this rule shall apply for new license plates pursuant to section 4503.10 of the Revised Code.

(F) All license plates having a white background with blue characters are determined to have exceeded their useful service life and are hereby declared obsolete effective upon the first registration expiration date occurring after the thirtieth day of September 2001.

(G) Any license plate having a white and gold blended background with blue characters has not yet exceeded its useful service life and may continue to be displayed until it is lost, mutilated, or destroyed; becomes illegible; loses its reflectivity; or is declared obsolete under this rule, provided that the plate also displays a current and valid validation sticker and county identification sticker.

Effective: 10/22/2011
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 06/14/2011 and 03/10/2016
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: R.C. 4503.22 , R.C. 4503.191
Rule Amplifies: R.C. 4503.22 , R.C. 4503.191
Prior Effective Dates: 7/16/01

4501-27-07 Specifications for validation stickers.

(A) Specifications for the manufacture of validation stickers required for the annual registration of passenger, commercial, motorcycle, and other vehicles are presented herein. There shall be a single validation sticker showing the month and year that the current registration period expires. One sticker shall be issued for each vehicle. The validation sticker shall be made of weather-resistant reflective sheeting having a smooth flat outer surface consisting of lens elements enclosed within a transparent plastic. The sheeting shall have pre-coated pressure-sensitive adhesive on the back side, protected by a removable liner, for convenient and durable attachment to the license plate or upon a previously applied sticker.

(B) The reflective sheeting shall be free from ragged edges, cracks and blisters, and shall be readily cut without cracking or flaking. All sheets shall be free of foreign matter.

(C) The pre-coated adhesive on all stickers shall be of a pressure-sensitive type which shall permit the sticker to be applied to the surface of the license plate or upon a previously applied validation sticker while license plates are attached to the vehicles. The use of additional adhesive coats, water solvents, or heat techniques to apply the sticker shall not be required. The adhesive shall have no staining effect on the reflective material and shall permit application of the sticker to the license plate or previously applied sticker at temperatures of minus ten degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. The adhesive shall withstand drying oven temperatures of one hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit to at least three hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit without melting or running and shall not exude from edges of sheeting to cause stacked sheets or processed stickers to stick together during manufacture and distribution.

(D) The validation sticker shall be manufactured in a manner that insures that it shall not become brittle, flaky, discolored, or acquire a powdery surface for a period of at least five years and that permits the stacking of at least five stickers.

(E) The adhesive protective liner may have a scalloped scoreline or a straight scoreline at or near the center of each sticker for easy removal.

(F) The validation sticker under normal service use shall adhere to the surface of the license plate and, when stacked up to five stickers high, shall adhere to the sticker to which it is applied for a minimum of five years and shall not be removable intact.

(G) The director of public safety shall designate the design of the validation sticker. The sticker design for each month of each registration year shall be the same except for the applicable monthly code numbers one to twelve. The first code number shown on the sticker shall identify the month of expiration and the second series of numbers shall identify the last two digits of the year of expiration.

(H) Stickers applied in accordance with instructions shall not blister, lift, or delaminate when subjected to gasoline, kerosene, diesel oils, water, steam, and cleaning detergents normally encountered in cleaning and washing service, nor shall stickers fade, disintegrate, or come off from extended exposure within a period of five years.

(I) The dimensions of each validation sticker shall be approximately one and one-half inches in width and one inch in height.

(J) The director shall designate the colors of the validation stickers on an annual basis.

(K) The validation stickers may be produced by Ohio penal industries or on-site at the registrar's offices or at deputy registrar or limited authority deputy registrar agencies, as authorized by the registrar. Validation stickers produced on-site at the registrar's offices or at deputy registrar or limited authority deputy registrar agencies shall be produced by a "print on demand" process, whereby the registration expiration month and year shall be printed on the validation sticker as each validation sticker is issued.

Effective: 10/22/2011
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 06/14/2011 and 03/10/2016
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: R.C. 4503.191 , R.C. 4503.22
Rule Amplifies: R.C. 4503.191 , R.C. 4503.22
Prior Effective Dates: 2/13/81, 8/13/84, 2/9/87, 12/23/88 (Emer.), 4/9/89, 6/13/96, 4/27/06

4501-27-08 Specifications for all-purpose vehicle decal.

(A) The registration of any snowmobile, any off-highway motorcycle, and any all-purpose vehicle for which no license plate is required shall be validated with a three-year decal which shall be affixed in such a manner as the registrar of motor vehicles shall prescribe. This single decal shall contain the registration expiration year and month and a distinctive series of letters and numbers.

(B) The shape of the decal shall be similar to the shape of the state of Ohio. The dimensions of the decal shall be approximately three inches by three inches and shall contain the words, "off-road vehicle."

(C) The decal material shall be pressure-sensitive, and waterproof, with an adhesive backing protected by a paper liner.

(D) The decal color shall be as prescribed by the registrar.

Effective: 10/22/2011
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 06/14/2011 and 03/10/2016
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: R.C. 4503.22
Rule Amplifies: R.C. 4519.04
Prior Effective Dates: 2/13/81, 2/9/87, 6/13/96, 7/16/01

4501-27-10 Specifications for county stickers.

(A) This rule presents the specifications for the manufacture of county identification stickers. The director of public safety shall designate the use of a county name identification sticker or a county number identification sticker for each class of license plates as appropriate.

(B) The county stickers shall be made of reflective materials having a smooth flat outer surface as exposed in use and pressure-sensitive adhesive backing, protected by a removable liner, for convenient and durable attachment to the flat, smooth background surfaces of license plates or upon a previously applied sticker.

(C) The dimensions of the county name identification sticker shall be five inches in width and seven-eighths inch in height with letter sizes approximately eleven-sixteenths inch in height and each stroke not less than one-eighth inch in width. The county name identification sticker shall be affixed to a clean, dry surface at the bottom center of each license plate unless the director designates a different location for any particular class of plates.

(D) The dimensions of the county number identification sticker shall be one and one-half inches in width and one inch in height with number sizes approximately seven-eighths inch in height and each stroke approximately one-eighth inch in width. The county number identification sticker shall be affixed to a clean, dry surface at the bottom left corner of the license plate unless the director designates a different location for any particular class of plates.

(E) The sticker material shall consist of sheeting, with the same adhesive and reflective performance values as that used for the validation stickers. The color of the letters for the county name or for the county number may match the color of the plate characters or may be of a different color. Any inventories remaining of the current issue of the county identification stickers may be exhausted prior to the issuance of new stickers as determined by the registrar of motor vehicles.

(F) The reflective sheeting shall be free from ragged edges, cracks, and blisters, and shall be readily cut without cracking or flaking. All sheets shall be free of foreign matter.

(G) The adhesive protective liner may have a scalloped scoreline or a straight scoreline at or near the center of each sticker for easy removal.

(H) The sticker shall be manufactured in a manner to insure that it shall not become brittle, flaky, discolored, or acquire a powdery surface within a period of five years or more. The protective finishing shall be of such quality to permit the stacking of at least four stickers.

(I) The adhesive on all stickers shall be of a pressure-sensitive type so that the stickers can be applied while the license plates are attached to the vehicles, without the necessity of additional adhesive coats, water, solvents, or heat techniques.

(J) Stickers applied in accordance with instructions shall not blister, lift, or delaminate when subjected to gasoline, kerosene, diesel oils, water, steam, and cleaning detergents normally encountered in cleaning and washing service, nor shall stickers fade, disintegrate, or come off from extended exposure within a period of five years.

R.C. 119.032 review dates: 06/14/2011 and 03/10/2016
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: R.C. 4503.22
Rule Amplifies: R.C. 4503.22
Prior Effective Dates: 2/13/81, 10/16/82, 2/9/87, 6/13/96, 7/16/01

4501-27-12 [Rescinded]Compliance with environmental standards.

Effective: 10/22/2011
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 06/14/2011
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: R.C. 4503.22
Rule Amplifies: R.C. 4503.22
Prior Effective Dates: 2/13/81, 6/4/88, 7/16/01

4501-27-13 Authority to test license plates and stickers.

The director of the department of public safety may authorize the manufacture and issuance of license plates and stickers for the purpose of testing materials, procedures, or innovations as to road durability and product effectiveness. Such manufacture and issuance shall be of a limited quantity with distribution and duration of issuance to be determined by the director to best accomplish the objectives set forth herein. For such testing purposes, the license plates and stickers need not conform to the specifications presented in this chapter. Nothing in this rule shall be construed to require the director or the registrar of motor vehicles to conduct testing prior to the award of any contract for the production of license plates or license plate materials.

R.C. 119.032 review dates: 06/14/2011 and 03/10/2016
Promulgated Under: 119.03
Statutory Authority: R.C. 4503.22
Rule Amplifies: R.C. 4503.22
Prior Effective Dates: 2/13/81, 6/4/88, 7/16/01