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Alternate version of license plates proving a popular choice by motorists

PIERRE -- Thousands of South Dakotans have chosen an alternate version of license plates for their vehicles rather than the new standard plate this year.

PIERRE - Thousands of South Dakotans have chosen an alternate version of license plates for their vehicles rather than the new standard plate this year.

The alternate doesn't display the county designator number and has a simpler background with a much smaller depiction of Mount Rushmore.

The design is intended to provide space for organization decals that motorists can place on the left side of the plates.

Known as the emblem or organizational plate, its popularity is growing for several reasons, according to Lisa Weyer, who oversees motor vehicle registrations for the state Department of Revenue.

One is a nationwide increase in popularity for license-plate personalization. "The emblem plates allow an individual to personalize their plate while supporting an organization of their choice," she said.

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Currently, there are approximately 105 organizations that offer an emblem decal for the emblem or organizational license plate, according to Weyer, and the plate is designed for the ability of non-profit organizations to fundraise among loyal supporters.

Second, at the time of renewal, there is no additional charge to switch from a county standard plate to an emblem or organizational plate.

"Obviously, during a reissue period is when many will make this change," Weyer said.

A third reason is the alternate plate without its county indicator allows motorists to remain "somewhat anonymous," she said.

The numbers tell the story. Single plates issued this year from Jan. 1 through Aug. 3 for vehicles totaled 560,626 standard county plates and 23,738 emblem or organizational plates.

Motorcyclists are part of the trend, too. There have been 59,478 standard motorcycle plates issued this year and 712 of the emblem or organizational type.

The alternate plate's popularity has been building, based on statistics from 2015 for new plates that were issued for newly purchased vehicles.

They showed 168,916 standard county plates and 6,328 of the alternate plates. For motorcycles, there were 16,266 standard plates and 408 alternate plates.

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