Boone Von Tungeln surveys boxes of license plates in a storage closet at Mustang Tag Agency this week. Soon, the tags will be replaced with a new tag design unveiled this week at the state Capitol by the Oklahoma Tax Commission. (Photographer/Victoria Middleton)
State unveils new design; busy Mustang Tag set to bring in estimated $175K in revenue
Boone Von Tungeln doesn’t know yet when they’ll be delivered, but sometime after Jan. 1, 2017, the Mustang Tag Agency will begin handing out new Oklahoma license plates.
Until then, starting this Saturday, the tag agent and his staff will charge customers an extra $5 fee as part of a statewide effort to update the state’s out-of-warranty plates and to crack down on uninsured drivers.
The Oklahoma Tax Commission unveiled the new tag design during a press conference at the state Capitol this past week. The new plate features a scissor-tailed flycatcher, our state bird, soaring over lakes, mountains and mesas, and displays TravelOK.com, promoting the state’s $8.9 billion tourism industry.
Von Tungeln has been through the new plate process before and he said it creates a lot of extra work and is costly. Currently, he has some 6,000 plates, and that is just for regular registrations, and does not include any specialty plates he might also have in storage.
As one of the busiest tag agencies in the state, Von Tungeln said he averages approximately 35,000 customers each year. If each customer paid the $5 fee, the tag agency would be sending $175,000 to the state’s coffers.
State officials said the one-time fee will be used to cover the costs of making the new plates but also will go to other legislative designations. Drivers that pay the fee starting this Saturday up until the new plates are delivered to tag agencies, Von Tungeln said will receive their new tag next year when they renew their plate again.
Paula Ross, Oklahoma Tax Commission communications director, said not all drivers will pay the $5. Those drivers choosing to get tribal tags, if they qualify, will not have to pay the fee.
Leftover plates, Ross said, will be collected by the state from tag agencies and then destroyed.
“It can be different every time,” Ross said, referring to how previously legislators allowed agents to deplete their plate inventory be-fore issuing new plates. “They are using this as a way to cut out uninsured drivers on our roads.”
Ross said the commission tries to anticipate what agencies have been using and issue plates accordingly, but higher volume agencies, might have extra inventory than others.
Von Tungeln said he anticipates hearing more on the new plates in his upcoming annual training he attends in October. He added that if anyone wanting to keep their current tag number when they receive their new tag, they can put in a request to do so for an additional $18 and receive the tag by mail.
The new plates were authorized by House Bill 3208, authored by Rep. Earl Sears and Sen. Clark Jolley.