WJBF EXTRA: License Tag Confusion - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

WJBF EXTRA: License Tag Confusion

By George Eskola

Helena Murray  has one; a Georgia specialty license tag. The reason is obvious. “I like wildflowers, that's why," she said.

And, if you like something or are into something in Georgia and South Carolina, there's probably a license plate for it. Between the two states, there are about 300 different options. That’s a lot of different looking Georgia and South Carolina license plates. 

License plates are they way we register our vehicles, but there's a reason we just don't throw them in the glove compartment. They are used to identify cars by law enforcement and if they are hard to identify, that makes their job harder.

"It could be confusing for people who are out there, like a motorist on the road, somebody they've witnessed getting into a car after a crime, not knowing what particular state that tag is from,” said Pat Morgan, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Special Agent in Charge, stationed in Thomson.

“I never thought about that, but I'm sure it could be a problem,” said Murray.

And, when it comes to our tags, the number of special ones are not the only issue. When it comes to the Georgia and South Carolina tags, people notice one thing...

"If I look at it really quick, like that, I wouldn't tell the difference,” said Mike Lipscomb.

"There's a similarity between them, yes, in the color," said Tonya Singleton.

"It's very similar. Sometimes, when I see the South Carolina plate, I think it's a Georgia plate," said Lipscomb. "I think the tags look alike,” he said.

But, don’t just take our word for it...

“I've noticed here recently, especially with Georgia and South Carolina, they're kind of blending together particular with the colors,” says Trooper First Class Jason Cunningham, with the Georgia State Patrol.

And, it's not just the colors for the new Georgia tag, the numbers and letters are no longer raised, and the letters and numbers are larger, again making identification more difficult especially at State Trooper speeds.

“Especially in nighttime conditions, you have more glare off of that tag which basically means we have to get closer to the vehicle to see what's on that tag,” said Sergeant Christopher Wright, of the Georgia State Patrol.

“You have to get closer than you normally would and be unsafe to get close to that vehicle. You don't want to get too close,” said Trooper Cunningham.

"Things happen in a split second," said Singleton. "So, are they too similar?" we asked. “They're very similar,” she said.

"That can be a problem. If they don't see the color right there, they say, 'I see a blue and orange tag'. It might be a Carolina tag, they might not think of it as a Georgia tag. By the time they find out, the criminal will be long gone,” said Lipscomb.

And, because of these tags, that might be it. State Troopers also warn that tinted covers for license plates can also cause problems and say they are illegal in Georgia.

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