County Clerk Patty Ritchie says vehicle owners who are confused about the new "Empire Gold" license plates are not required to get them when they renew registrations.
Clerks from northern and central New York counties are responding to apparent confusion over new state vehicle registration renewal forms that have begun to arrive in local mailboxes that are informing drivers that they don’t need to replace their license plates with the new “Empire Gold” plates.
The new plates are being offered as an option to every vehicle owner who renews a registration—for an extra fee of as much as $45. A small number of drivers—fewer than one percent, according to state officials—have opted to buy the replacement plates so far.
Albany decided to go ahead and create the plates even after a popular uprising and petition drive led by Clerk Ritchie and other county clerks caused the governor and state legislators to abandon a proposal to make them mandatory. But some drivers are apparently confused by an awkwardly worded registration form that has begun arriving in mailboxes, thinking they still must pay for the more expensive plates.
“We made Albany back down on mandating the new licenses, and nothing has changed,” said Ritchie. “Drivers who want to pay extra for the new plates have that option, but drivers who don’t, can keep the plates they already have, and pocket the savings.”
Ritchie urged drivers to read the renewal forms carefully, and to call the county clerk’s DMV office with any questions, to avoid an additional $5 fee that Albany has begun charging motorists who call the state registration phone line.
“New Yorkers said ‘no’ to mandatory plate replacement, and that saved taxpayers millions of dollars in unnecessary expense. But that doesn’t mean that some drivers didn’t still want them, at their own option and expense,” said Oswego County Clerk George Williams, who said he had fielded a number of queries, mostly from senior citizens, as the new plates started to appear on New York highways.
County clerks are also urging motorists to mail or bring their registration renewals to the clerk’s DMV office, so a portion of the fees stay local.
In St. Lawrence County, there are DMV offices in Canton, Gouverneur, Massena and Ogdensburg.
For more information, call 379-2237.
County Clerk Ritchie is the candidate of the Republican Party to try to unseat state Senator Darrel Aubertine, a Democrat, in the November election