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Rhode Island license plate redesign on hold until 2019

A long-delayed redesign of Rhode Island license plates is now on hold until 2019, NBC 10 News has learned.

A long-delayed redesign of Rhode Island license plates is now on hold until 2019, NBC 10 News has learned.

A new plate design revealed in October 2014 under then-Gov. Lincoln Chafee was scheduled to start rolling out in September 2015.

But that design was put on hold by Gov. Gina Raimondo in 2015 so that a different one could be developed as part of the state’s $5 million tourism initiative.

Raimondo said at the time that the plate new design would start rolling out in July 2016.

More than a year after that deadline, the state Division of Motor Vehicles told NBC 10 News that the agency has other projects that are more urgent and that it has reached an agreement with lawmakers in the State House to delay the redesign until 2019.

"That's when we think we can make it work.” said DMV spokesman Paul Grimaldi.

Rhode Island law calls for license plates to be redesigned every 10 years. The current wave design plate was introduced in 1996, meaning the state is more than 20 years over its own deadline. Grimaldi said there was no federal mandate for the redesign, and lawmakers are aware of the DMV’s plan.

Three designs were selected as finalists, but then the entire project was shelved, Grimaldi said. No winner was chosen. The delay is intended to give DMV staff time to focus on more urgent projects. The agency installed a new computer system earlier this year.

Once the new plates start rolling out, car owners will exchange their old wave design plates for new ones when their registration is scheduled for renewal, saving them an extra transaction at the DMV.

Once a new design is finalized, there will be an additional cost to the DMV to print the new plates. But Grimaldi said the cost wasn’t a factor in the delay.

“This is not going to swing the DMV’s budget one way or another,” he said.

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