New license plates required for visibility

Published 9:51 am Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

Question:   Why are new license plates issued every seven years?

Answer:  Minnesota State Statute 168.12 states, “Plates issued for passenger automobiles must be issued for a seven-year period. All plates issued under

Troy Christianson

Troy Christianson

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this paragraph must be replaced if they are seven years old or older at the time of registration renewal or will become so during the registration period.”

The replacement is in part due to the safety reflectorization required for the plate. It’s required that Minnesota license plates be readable from 110 feet and be visible from a vehicle equipped with normal headlights at 1,500 feet. The reflective materials in the plate sheeting degrade over time and are warranted for five years, but seven year replacements are less interruptive. Minnesota’s challenging environment stresses the plate’s sheeting and reflectorization and those in rural areas are subjected to additional strains. The replacement also helps reduce registration tax avoidance.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848, or reach him at


Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.