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North Dakota lawmakers to get first look at new license plate design next week

North Dakota has used the 'Discover the Spirit' plates since 1993. A new design will be unveiled next week.

Bismarck, ND - North Dakota lawmakers will get their first look next week at a proposed new license plate design to replace the award-winning “Discover the Spirit” design that’s been in use since 1993.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation will present its recommended design to the Legislature’s Budget Section for approval Wednesday morning.

Lawmakers last year appropriated $6.82 million to cover the cost of issuing a new general license plate for the first time in more than 20 years.

Under the approved bill, the recommended design must be presented to the Budget Section, and it can’t be publicly unveiled before then, Department of Transportation spokeswoman Peggy Anderson said.

The new plate also can’t have raised lettering like the current embossed plate. As a result, Rough Rider Industries, which employs inmates at the North Dakota State Penitentiary to produce the plates, is procuring equipment to make digitally-printed flat plates, Anderson said.

Current plates must be replaced with the new flat plate by June 30, 2017.

“It’ll probably be a process that takes place over a couple of years,” Anderson said.

North Dakota’s current license plate depicts a prairie scene and is referred to at the DOT as the “buffalo plate” because of the ungulate featured in the lower left corner. It received “Plate of the Year” honors for best new license plate of 1993 by the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association.

Reach Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.