The West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles unveiled a brand new license plate Friday. The Friends of Coal now have a plate of their very own.

Acting Gov, Earl Ray Tomblin was on hand at the West Virginia Coal Association's annual spring meeting in Charleston to unveil the plate. He says it's a great way to promote the coal industry.

"I think that we need to get our message out. One of the ways to do that is to have what I call a moving or mobile billboard,” Tomblin said. So far, 479 Friends of Coal plates have been issued in West Virginia. Some of those were handed out during the unveiling. The others will be sent out in the mail starting Monday. The DMV is currently taking applications for the Friends of Coal plate.
Coal Association President Bill Raney says Kentucky has already issued more than 35,000 Friends of Coal plates and he wants West Virginia to top that number.

State DMV Commissioner Joe Miller says the Friends of Coal license plate is the first to be issued under a new law passed in 2010 that regulates how specialized plates are approved. It's also the first high-tech plate produced by the state DMV.

"It is much superior to the existing plate in visibility, production cost, ease and efficiency, plus it's going to be reducing the cost [to manufacture] a special plate from eight bucks to $2.80,” Miller said.

That $5.20 savings from every plate will now go into the state Road Fund.

Unlike the current plate, which involves multiple processes, including embossing and harmful chemicals, the new plate is flat. It has a bar code so police have instant access to information about the car and driver. Most importantly, it's easier to see.
Miller says they tested the new plate out with the help of the West Virginia State Police and officers with the City of Charleston.

"About 50 feet away we shined a light on to the different models of the plates [we were considering]. This one model we adopted, it just jumped out at you,” the commissioner said.

The technology is so new other states are following in West Virginia's footsteps.

Friends of Coal hope to see thousands of the black license plates with white numbers and the Friends of Coal logo on the left side out the road in the near future.

West Virginia Coal Association - PO Box 3923 - Charleston, WV 25339 | 304-342-4153 | website developed by brickswithoutstraw