Politics and Government

Popular blackout license plates will soon hit the road in Minnesota

Legislators also approved several other new license plate options this year

Exchange Blackout Plates
Woodbury County, Iowa, Treasurer Mike Clayton poses for a photo with a new blackout license plate at Motor Vehicle Division office in Sioux City, Iowa, in September 2019. Blackout plates will soon be an option for drivers in Minnesota, too.
Justin Wan | Sioux City Journal via AP file

You can add a little more chic to your ride in Minnesota starting next year.

State lawmakers this spring approved the creation of so-called “blackout” license plates for passenger vehicles, light trucks, RVs and motorcycles.

The plates feature white lettering on a black background. Officials haven’t released an official design yet, as the law only directs the state’s commissioner of public safety to come up with one. They’ll be legal starting Jan. 1.

The plates most recently appeared in Iowa, legalized there in 2019. Vehicle owners ordered nearly half a million of them within months, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz earlier this year called them “one thing Iowa got right.”

Iowa officials say the simplicity of the design seems to be the draw in states that offer the plates, which also include Colorado and Mississippi.

Lawmakers in Minnesota agreed this session. “The commissioner must adopt a suitable plate design that includes a black background with white text,” reads the bill that added the plates to Minnesota State Statutes Chapter 168.

Minnesotans are expected to order between 100,000 and 200,000 of the plates shortly after they debut. They will be subject to a special plate fee and require a $30 annual fee.

But they weren’t the only plates that got added to Minnesota’s license palette this session.

Lawmakers also approved a Lions Club International plate and a special missing and murdered Indigenous relatives plate. That design is also in the works, but the Legislature did include several guidelines: “The commissioner must adopt a suitable plate design that includes a red handprint to one side, a partial ribbon skirt toward the bottom corner, and reads ‘Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives’ or ‘MMIR.’”

And if you’ve been jealous of Wisconsin’s Green Bay Packers plates — well, you can finally respond on the road.

Minnesota lawmakers authorized a raft of pro sports plates this year, with versions in the works for the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Lynx, Minnesota Wild, Minnesota Twins and Minnesota United. The plates will all be designed in consultation with charitable foundations associated with each team and require annual contributions to the foundations.

They’ll add to more than 100 variations of license plates in Minnesota, which commemorate everything from military service to golf to citizens band radio.