The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles is requesting a three-month grace period for vehicle owners who miss a year-end deadline to replace their license plates.
The "bighorn" license plates will no longer be valid as of Jan. 1.
But the agency is sending letters to state law enforcement agencies, asking them to postpone ticketing drivers with old plates until April 1. The Nevada Highway Patrol already has agreed to the request, DMV spokesman Tom Jacobs said.
The grace period could save thousands of motorists fines ranging from $70 to $90, state officials said.
The 2001 Nevada Legislature mandated the elimination of the silver and gray license plates, saying the DMV was losing vehicle registration revenue because law enforcement officers could not read the faded plates.
The plates with a bighorn sheep silhouette in the upper left corner were first issued in 1982, but now must be replaced with the state's new sunset design or a specialized plate.
No extra fees will be charged to motorist exchanging plates.
"We are just trying to make this as easy as possible," Jacobs said. "We want to make sure no one gets left behind on this through no fault of their own."
State officials proposed the grace period after Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, criticized the DMV for poor communication with motorists about the Jan. 1 deadline during last week's meeting of the Interim Finance Committee.
Coffin said information about the deadline "was in small print" on registration notices and probably missed by many motorists.
"I just think people need to be given a little bit more time," Coffin said. "It is not going to hurt to wait another three months."
The DMV proposes that motorists with old plates could be given a "fix-it" ticket that would allow them to visit a DMV office and exchange their license plates.
But officials add the temporary amnesty for an outdated license plate won't prevent officers from ticketing drivers for other driving infractions.
"You could be stopped for having a bighorn plate, but you could be cited for a seat belt violation if you don't have your seat belt on," Jacobs said.
"You could be stopped for having a bighorn plate but if your license has been suspend or revoked, you could be arrested for that. If they stop you and you have a bag of marijuana on the seat, you could be arrested."
The grace period also has nothing to do with car registration, Jacobs said.
"This is not a grace period of registrations," Jacobs said. "If your registration is due in January, it must be taken care of then."
The DMV began mailing the sunset-design plates to all bighorn plate owners last November, Jacobs said. Yet many of the 633,000 motorists who had the bighorn plates could not be reached because they have changed address and did not notify the DMV.
State law requires motorists who have moved or whose ZIP codes have been changed to either mail a change of address form to the DMV or use the agency's Web site.
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Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles: www.nevada.dmv.state.nv.us