Low-numbered plates may be Valhalla for Rhode Island’s vainglorious. But they are hard to come by. So for the average driver looking for attention, “vanity” and “special category” plates are the way to go.
Vanity plates are one-of-a-kind statements — “SALSGAL,” if you want to proclaim your love, or “GYNDOC,” if you’re looking for some free advertising.
Special category plates, created by the General Assembly at the request of community groups, are a bit more outward looking. Those plates can recognize a category of Rhode Islanders, such as Purple Heart recipients. They may also highlight local institutions or icons like the Plum Beach Lighthouse, which graces over 1200 license plates, according to Chuck Hollis, assistant administrator for the Division of Motor Vehicles.
Save the Bay issues like the Osprey plate have been legislated, as has the Potato Head plate (supporting Hasbro Children’s Hospital.) Sports fans can look forward to possible Bruins and Red Sox issues, currently in the planning stages. (No projects in the works for irate taxpayer issues, though my guess would be that a “Throw the Bums Out” plate might get a lot of takers right now.)
What many Rhode Islanders may not know is that a Breast Cancer Awareness license plate was ordered, by law, over a year ago. But in order to actually start issuing the plates, the DMV needs 900 pledges from drivers. And those pledges are sorely lagging.
Representative Al Gemma, a Warwick Democrat, sponsored the breast cancer plate legislation with hefty support from other lawmakers. The consciousness-raising tag is available for an initial surcharge to the driver of $40 the first year — $20 of which goes to the DMV and $20 to the Rhode Island Breast Cancer Coalition. After that, there is an annual registration surcharge of only $10. All of that $10 will go to support breast cancer awareness.
The new plates display the iconic pink ribbon and the web site address for the Breast Cancer Coalition where public education is available 24/7.
I have often thought, when I am in traffic behind a more macho military plate, that I long for a Rhode Island tag specifically designed to support women. (I never see a plate proudly proclaiming “Mother of Three Great Kids” or “I Put My Husband Through Grad School!”)
The Breast Cancer Awareness plate gives Rhode Island men and women a chance to indulge their license plate mania while supporting breast cancer awareness, to combat a disease that has touched so many of us, personally or through our circle of women we care about. In my universe, breast cancer awareness should be right up there with Purple Hearts, lighthouses, and even the PawSox.
So now you know. And if you care enough to honor your mother, sister, wife, lover, or friend — or to signal that you have defeated or eluded breast cancer — sign up now. For more information and sign-up sheets, contact Gemma directly at 401.996.8363.
The women you love thank you.