The Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles is considering whether to eliminate the month and date registration stickers that adorn state license plates here.
In a request for information published earlier this month, the division put out an open call for answers, asking about the pros and cons of the idea.
The agency, through a spokesperson, said it didn’t have much to share about the request at this point, but that it’s one of several requests that the department has out.
“This is DMV exploring and trying to learn the landscape,” said Ken Truitt, a spokesperson for the Department of Administration, which controls the DMV.
Public notices show the DMV also investigating the possibility of self-service kiosks “in high-traffic areas,” a mobile application that allows Alaskans to renew licenses and registration remotely, and an artificial intelligence chatbot to answer questions asked of the DMV.
“DMV currently has five RFIs out and is trying to learn what’s available to help DMV modernize and become more digitally orientated,” Truitt said.
The moves follow DMV’s decision to redesign the state’s standard license plate with a new typeface, and the Legislature’s decision to eliminate the requirement that each vehicle carry two license plates. Only a rear license plate is now required.
At least three states have already eliminated the requirement that license plates carry stickers showing the expiration date of a vehicle’s registration.
New Jersey eliminated the requirement in 2004, followed by Connecticut in 2010 and Pennsylvania in 2016. All states still require vehicles to be re-registered on a regular basis — there’s just no physical sign that their registration is up to date.
There may be lessons for Alaska from Pennsylvania’s experience.
At the time Pennsylvania eliminated its stickering program, the state’s Department of Transportation claimed it would save $3.1 million per year in administration costs.
Three years later, a state legislator proposed reinstating the stickering requirement, noting that the number of vehicles registered in the state plunged after the requirement was eliminated.
The plunge in registrations — possibly due to residents dodging the licensing requirement — cost the state $22 million in reduced fee collections in 2017 alone, the legislator said.
At a subsequent legislative hearing, a state official attributed the drop in registrations to normal fluctuations.
A state police official testified that as a result of the change, patrol officers began routinely running license plates through the state’s registration database, increasing the number of citations for unregistered vehicles.
The sticker reinstatement bill failed in Pennsylvania, and the state continues to operate without license plate stickers.
Originally published by the Alaska Beacon, an independent, nonpartisan news organization that covers Alaska state government.