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Winning New York license plate design unveiled by DMV

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo launched a statewide survey

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo launched a statewide survey to select New York State's new license plate design. Credit: Courtesy of

The design of a new state license plate appears settled, if not the controversy about the associated fee.

The Cuomo administration on Friday announced the selection of new license plates beginning in 2020, a design that will remind drivers of the not-too-distant past.

The new design features Niagara Falls and the New York City skyline, mimicking the blue-and-white license plate in use up to 2009. But the new one has the design at the bottom rather than the top, and is blue, white and gold. Instead of reading "The Empire State," it will read “Excelsior,” the state motto, in gold at the bottom.

Under a plan from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, motorists would be compelled to switch plates when their current ones turn 10 years old and pay a $25 replacement fee; $20 additional if you want your old number on your new plate. Faced with criticism about the mandate, the Cuomo administration recently suggested it would be open to allowing drivers’ keep their plates as long as they are legible by new electronic scanners on toll roads and bridges.

That issue might not be decided until January, when the state Legislature returns for the 2020 session. But the new plate design is resolved.

State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark Schroeder said the design received the vote of 49.7 percent of votes cast in an online contest run through Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s website. None of the other four designs offered by the administration received more than 15 percent. About 325,000 votes were cast, according to the DMV.

“The design overwhelmingly selected by New Yorkers showcases some of our most iconic symbols and truly represents what the Empire State is all about — our diversity, our unparalleled architecture and natural beauty, and our unyielding commitment to freedom and justice for all,” Schroeder said in a statement.

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