License plate supplies are running out statewide.
A shortage of license plates caused by an unavailability of aluminum and an outbreak of COVID at Nebraska State Penitentiary has left the Nebraska Department of Vehicles unable to provide some counties with new passenger license plates last week.
Only passenger plates are affected by the shortage; commercial truck, farm or trailer license plates are still available.
The Hall County Treasurer’s Office began running out of passenger license plates last week and, by the end of Friday, there were none left.
“With the COVID crisis, there’s a shortage of aluminum and there was an outbreak at the (state) prison. The prison is the one that makes the plates, so production of plates has been hindered,” said County Treasurer Alaina Verplank.
Verplank was unable to say how many license plates Hall County issues during a given period.
The shortage has affected neighboring counties, as well.
Adams County Treasurer Melanie Curry said her office ran out of plates at the end of August.
“We did get some in right away, though,” Curry said. “We had some on order and did receive some not long after.”
There have not been any shortages since in Adams County, Curry said.
Hall County will be receiving more license plates soon.
“We should be receiving plates today or tomorrow,” Verplank said.
In the meantime, Hall County is providing letters to drivers explaining the issue should they be stopped by law enforcement officials.
“The letters basically state that due to COVID we’ve run out of passenger plates,” Verplank said. “If people come in to register we’re giving those letters out, telling them to keep those letters with them, to inform law enforcement that if they were to get pulled over that I was in and the treasurer is out of plates at this time.”
She added, “It doesn’t necessarily stop them getting a citation, but it does inform them that they did try to get plates.”
Hall County and Grand Island law enforcement are aware of the situation, Verplank said.
“I’ve contacted law enforcement and given them copies of the letter so they know the situation Hall County is in,” she said.
While unable to register for new license plates, drivers still are able to visit the Hall County Administration Building to pay sales tax to avoid penalties and interest.
“We have a list of people with phone numbers who will come in,” Verplank said. “Once we get plates we’ll call them and say we have license plates now, come in and we’ll get you registered.”
Hall County experienced a license plate shortage once years ago.
“We were able to reissue used plates at the time,” Verplank said. “Now that we’re on VicToRy (registration system), we’re not allowed to reissue used plates, so that has been an issue this time.”
She added, “Hopefully, if we get past COVID, we won’t have to worry about it again.”
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