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Drivers will have to wait a bit longer to catch R.I.’s new wave license plates

Starting in January, the new design will be issued to drivers whose registration renewals are due, along with those registering vehicles for the first time

The new plate, designed by South Kingstown resident Willem Van Lancker, is an homage to the old design.Rhode Island DMV

PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island drivers will have to wait until 2023 to start riding the new waves.

The newly designed license plates, sort of a “more waves are better” design of the current singular wave plates, won’t be rolled out until January.

Although the state Division of Motor Vehicles revealed the winning design in April, the process to actually get the plates onto vehicles takes longer, said Paul Grimaldi, spokesman for the state Department of Revenue.

The state police spent a month reviewing the plates to make sure they could be easily viewed by law enforcement, regardless of the time of day and weather. After the state police approved the plates in May, the DMV assessed that the process to have the plates in stock and issued to motorists would take another six months. Some of the delay was also caused by production problems of the specialty envelopes used to mail license plates.

At that point, it made more sense to just start fresh on Jan. 1, Grimaldi said.


That’s about six months behind the deadline lawmakers set when they passed the budget.

The 785,000 or so new wave license plates will be reissued over two years, with an estimated cost of $8.5 million, including the surcharge waiver. Those with renewals due in January will be the first to get their new license plates, along with those who are registering vehicles for the first time, Grimaldi said.

Every new reissued wave plate will already have the first validation sticker attached with the date of expiration, Grimaldi said. When the registration expires, people can renew their registration and get a new set of validation stickers as usual.

Because of incorrect information provided to the reporter, an earlier version of this story misstated the number of new license plates that will be reissued over two years, starting in January. About 785,000 plates will be reissued.


Amanda Milkovits can be reached at amanda.milkovits@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMilkovits.