Bye bye chickadee? Lawmakers consider changing Maine’s license plate

New Maine license plate
New Maine license plate(State of Maine)
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 10:56 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA, Maine (WMTW) - You have a chance to offer your thoughts Wednesday on a proposal to replace the current general issue chickadee license plate in Maine with a new design featuring the 1901 Maine flag.

The change was proposed back in February.

The chickadee plates have been in use in Maine for almost 25 years, but officials say many have deteriorated beyond recognition, creating a public safety issue.

It is important for everyone from law enforcement to tolling authorities and citizens to be able to quickly and easily identify license plates, especially in the case of crashes or serious crimes.

Older plates also become harder to see at night and in adverse weather conditions.

“From a public safety perspective, it is critically important that we change up the standard license plates for Maine vehicles,” said Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, who oversees the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. “License plates need to be easily visible by other drivers, toll authorities and law enforcement – and too many chickadee plates on the roads today are in rough shape given their age.”

The Legislature’s Transportation Committee is holding a public hearing on the proposal on Wednesday, May 31 at 10 a.m.

LD 1965 “An Act to Authorize the Secretary of State to Provide a New General Issue of License Plates” is sponsored by Rep. Lynne Williams, a Democrat from Bar Harbor, who serves as House chair of the Transportation Committee.

“I’ve heard from many Mainers who are excited about new plates,” said Williams. “After 24 years, it’s time for a new design.”

The Secretary of State’s Office says the plan is to replace all chickadee plates with the new general issue plate when Mainers register their vehicles from Spring 2025 through Spring 2026. The state will also ensure that anyone who wants to keep a vanity or low-digit plate will keep it.

The legislation proposes that the new standard issue plate feature the buff background of the 1901 Maine state flag, with a navy blue star and dark green pine tree on the left side of the plate. Also in navy is MAINE at the top of the plate with VACATIONLAND below.

A work session on LD 1965 is scheduled for Thursday, June 1, at 1 p.m.