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Fact Or Fiction: Are Green Plates No Good?

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Michael Felger

Fact Or Fiction: Are Green Plates No Good?WBZ

While the world wants you to go “green,” the folks at the Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles want you to go “red.”

They prefer you to turn in those old green and white license plates for new, red and white plates.

But do you have to?

WRONG INFORMATION

A lot of you are telling us you’re getting wrong information from the people who should know.

Karen in Chelmsford posted this question on our Curiosity web site:

“What’s the deal with green license plates? I was told at the inspection station I needed to have it replaced. Then I see that it’s not true.”

Well, we got the real information.

The old green plates were last made in 1987, so a lot of them are worn and cracked.

“Some of them you literally can’t make out the numbers,” says Registrar Rachel Kaprielian.

But there are still a half million of them on the roads.

Karen Barrett used to have one, and she wanted to keep it, but when she went to have her car inspected recently, she says the inspection station told her they couldn’t do it, that green plates were no good anymore, and that she needed to bring the plate to the Registry and swap it for a new red and white one.

But when she went to the RMV in Lowell, and asked about it, she says she was given the same bad information.

“The person at the counter said, you were supposed to have done this by December,” says Barrett.

That’s just not true.

THE TRUTH

The rule is clear.

If your plate can be read from 60 feet, and the paint and reflective coating are in good shape, you can keep it.

PROBLEM PERSISTS

Still, viewers continue to contact us saying inspection stations are turning them away just because the plates are green without even doing the 60-foot test.

We saw it happen at an inspection station in suburban Boston.

A woman with a green plate pulled up for an inspection only to be told the plate had to be returned to the Registry.

When I asked the inspection station guy why, I was told it was a new rule, no more green plates.

It also happened to my father, John Wade.

“Ticked me off. I wanted to keep it,” says the elder Wade.

REGISTRIES TESTED

We wanted to see for ourselves how the Registry was handling this question, so WBZ-TV producer Ken Tucci and a photographer with a hidden camera visited four Registry offices and asked what they should do if they had a green and white plate.

At the Watertown Registry they were given the wrong information.

“They flat out told us we had to replace a green license plate, they’re no good anymore,” reports Tucci.

At Registry offices in Wilmington, Lowell and Lawrence, Tucci received correct information about the 60 foot rule, but was also told that the police dislike the green plates because they are only on the rear of a car, while the newer red and white plates are on both the front and back which makes their job a little easier.

FIXING THE PROBLEM

We told Registrar Rachel Kaprielian what we found and because of that she has printed up large posters to hang in all Registry branches informing both the public and Registry employees what the rules are regarding green plates.

“If it’s a matter of retraining, if it’s a matter of another alert that we send to our inspection stations, we will continue to do that,” says Kaprielian.

“And we take responsibility, and we apologize,” she adds.

So you’re not needlessly inconvenienced, learn more about the rules for license plates at these Registry web sites:

ico010x010bullet Fact Or Fiction: Are Green Plates No Good? Registry of Motor Vehicles Home

ico010x010bullet Fact Or Fiction: Are Green Plates No Good? Regulations about turning in your worn plates

ico010x010bullet Fact Or Fiction: Are Green Plates No Good? RMV Consumer Alert regarding green license plates

images image 280164506 Fact Or Fiction: Are Green Plates No Good? RMV Inspection Station Complaint Form (.pdf)

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